The young woman who spends the night with her church's ministry to folks transitioning out of homelessness discovers she's blessed and vivified by sacrificing a good night of shut eye. The one who rushes out of work at three o'clock to tutor children who live in her neighborhood is enlivened by service. The woman who spends Sunday afternoons with a neighbor living with dementia, to give the woman's family some free time together, finds life in her sacrificial gift. The secret of death giving way to life is one that Jesus knew and into which he invites his followers. Dallas Willard and Richard Foster call disciplines like these the "secret of the easy yoke."
When to Serve
Janice was rushing from her car into the bank before it closed for the evening. Lingering outside was a woman she'd seen before at a nearby intersection, where she held a crude cardboard sign asking for money. The woman's hair was matted, her skin browned by the sun, and she had a faint odor about her. When Janice came out of the bank, cash in pocket, the woman asked her if she could spare some change. Uncomfortable but compelled by God's great love for the woman, Janice prayerfully considered stepping into new territory. The fact that her typically full schedule was strangely clear that evening only seemed to seal the deal.
"I don't give out money, but if you'd like to join me for dinner, we could grab a bite next door at McDonald's."
After thinking it over for a moment, the woman agreed.
Service isn't always something extra we schedule into our day planners, carving out three hours on a Saturday morning to swing a hammer or that "service week" in Haiti. In fact, the witness of the Gospels is one of Jesus and others encountering and responding to those in need in the natural course of their days. Sometimes, that meant sharing a meal. One time it was a donkey ride to an inn (Luke 10:25-37). Other times, hearts and bodies were healed. As you determine to join the kingdom adventure of service, allow the Spirit to move you in new unexpected ways.
The Secret of the Easy Yoke
If you've imagined "Christian service" as an obligatory duty that must simply be endured, you've been missing out on the joyful adventure into which you've been called. Jesus has something so much better for you! You were made to move with Jesus toward the sometimes unlikely ones he loves. And though it often does seem inconvenient or awkward or unlikely, as you step toward the ones Jesus loves, aware of his presence with you, you participate in establishing the new kingdom he ushered in. Author Shane Claiborne confirms, "God is preparing each of us for something really, really small … and it's small things done with great love that move the world."
Margot Starbuck, award-winning writer and speaker, is a graduate of Westmont College and Princeton Theological Seminary. A TCW regular contributor and columnist, Margot speaks regularly on discipleship, justice, and living love in the world God loves. Connect with Margot on Facebook, Twitter, or at MargotStarbuck.com.