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sure I'll serve-BUT....

Imagine the following conversation:

Bob: Hi Jane. There is going to be an opportunity for ministry this week at a local homeless shelter. I was wondering if you would be interested in serving the Lord with us in this way.

Jane: Sure! I would love to serve in that way. I really have a heart for that particular ministry! The only thing is, I'm only available between the hours of 2 PM and 5 PM on Thursdays, because I have school and work and friends and the gym and errands and TV shows. So it better be during that time, otherwise, I won't be able to. And, if there is any messy/yucky work that needs to be done, you're going to have to get someone else to do that, because, well, you know, that really isn't my forte. And, I'm really only going to be able to come if Rose comes too, because it just won't be as much fun serving the Lord if Rose wasn't there. Oh. And I hope it's okay it I complain some of the time while we're serving, because it's going to be hard work, and I want people there to know how hard I'm working. And while we're on the subject of complaining, know that if everything doesn't go exactly the way that I have planned, you'll probably hear some grumbling on my behalf. And I hope it's okay if I pass out a bulletin at church this week letting everyone know that I'm giving up 3 hours of my time in order to serve in this way, because I want to make sure that everyone knows that I have the heart of a humble servant.

I don't know about you, but if I were Bob, I think I'd tell Jane to take her three hours of available serving time and stick them...ahem...um yea, I mean, that I would tell Jane her service was no longer needed. At least, not THAT kind of service.

The Lord really did a number on my heart these past two days as far as serving is concerned. I was asked to serve in this one area, and the events that transpired since then have shone a spotlight on my ever selfish, ever sinful, and ever in need of a Savior heart.

Why do I only want to serve on MY terms? How is that my definition of serving has even come to have anything to do with me at all? Do I only serve so that other people will notice? Do I care more about the praises of man that the praises of God? And who ever said serving was all fun, all the time? Serving is about sacrifice, and denying of self, and dying to self. Will my motives for serving always be half God-glorifying and half Jenn-glorifying?

This past weekend, the topic of waiters was a hot one among some of my friends and I-for one, many of us have experience in the food industry, but also, we recently had a not so positive experience at Olive Garden. As I reflect back upon my time as a waitress, as a SERVER, I'm realizing some things. When I walk up to the table, to introduce myself and to take their order, no matter what kind of day I'm having, I put a smile on my face and try to come across friendly and kind, because their restaurant experience isn't about MY current disposition, or MY preferences, or MY desires. It doesn't matter that I've now pulled a double 3 days in a row, and I seem to permanently smell of food. It's about their current need for something (food) and my current ability to help satisfy that need. I am at their beck and call, and if they need their sweet tea glass refilled 10 times in 2 hours, I'll fill it with a smile on my face each and every time. Why? Because there is hopefully a reward at the end of the evening for me-a nice large tip.

How much more so should I serve outside of the restaurant world in this same way? First of all, we are called to serve one another. But secondly, there is also a reward for us, and an absolutely certain reward at that. There would be some tables, that no matter how impeccable my serving of them was, the tip that they would leave left much to be desired. But when it comes to service as a believer, I know that my Father will be glorified. I know that He will be pleased with my actions and with the glory He receives, and that I in turn, will somehow be blessed. I know what the end result is.

You may be reading this, and thinking "That's all well and good Jenn, but here's the thing. I'm busy! I go to school and I work and I've just got stuff to do. At the end of the day, it really just isn't the right time for me to serve right now. It's not my heart's greatest desire."

Well friend, the greatest servant of all, Jesus Christ, laid down His own desires to submit to His Father's will. He prayed in the Garden, that if it were at all possible, the Father would take this cup, this death on a cross, away...that if it were at all possible God would make His glory known and His people redeemed in some other way. One of the desires of Christ's heart was to have the cup removed-but it was not His ultimate desire. The utmost and foremost desire of Christ was that His Father's will would be done, and in whatever way Christ was called to serve, He would serve joyfully, and humbly, and fully.

Praise God that Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, is always about doing His Father's business, and is always about the glory of His Father. Praise God that He was a servant, doing that which was not the most fun, but that which He was called to do. Praise God that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is living and breathing in me, because this means that there is hope for me! This means that I am being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. I am being continually sanctified, and perhaps one day, I will say with my whole heart "I would LOVE to serve you in that way" and mean it fully and completely and to the glory of God.

mmmmm... the sound of convicting words and grounded theology, they always go down smooth. Great job jen on illuminating why we should serve. (Men are still the better race*, and no that wasn't a play on words. I tried to do it above with the sound and sound doctrine but it just wasn't working out. sigh...)

Convicting... you mean I am supposed to serve the obnoxious, drunk 25yr old victim of a bar fight who comes to the ER at 3am for stitches and more percocet with a joyful willing heart? :) i really need to focus on this more...you are a great writer by the way, in case i haven't told you that before ;)

Heather

Kyle:

I've been so blessed by the teachings of sovereign grace. Were it not for our pastors, my theology would be liberal and feminist and quite probably, blasphemous.

(And if your pun had worked out with sound, I'd have been in awe. You get half a point for effort though!
Men may be the better race, but if it was just a race between you and your dad, I think we all know who would win. And in case it's not clear, it'd be your dad. Hope he likes his hat ;-))


Heather:

Ha. I know that you have so much more practical knowledge in the area of serving than I do-between the medical profession and the 5 brothers and sisters. But yes, serve the bar fighter joyfully too...
I don't feel like I'm a great writer, I feel like I just type and sometimes, God uses it so bless and encourage others. But thank you for your kind words nonetheless!

Hey Jenn, I enjoyed reading this post, especially after that long conversation we had about this topic. Hmm...yea the next day I was confronted with another opportunity to conveniently let some other people know about the way I had served. I didn't initiate the conversation on the topic, the other person asked me about it...and there were aspects about the conversation that were important (ie the reason there was a need for someone to serve), but it sure was gratifying my pride!

Jenn,
I have been so blessed and encouraged as I have been reading through several of your posts today and the comment you made on Challie's article about homeschooling/public schooling. Your writing is richly seasoned with the gospel and God has used it today to renew my mind and focus my heart. I am praying He would train my heart so that my words would be full of the grace of Christ as He has so obviously worked in your heart!
Kristin H

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