I’m sitting here in front of this blank page trying to figure out what to write for this week’s blog post — it’s a free write, and those sometimes give me trouble because it’s up to me entirely to decide what to write about. To be perfectly honest, 2018 has not been stellar for me, I admit, and the coming weeks don’t appear to offer any relief best I can tell. There has been loss and there has been hardship, and there are days I’d rather just stay in bed. I won’t bore you with the details (oh, and this year’s birthday? It was a big one…), but suffice it to say I’ve needed to hear God and feel Him, and there have been many times when all I’ve heard and felt has been silence. There have been times I’ve found it really hard to plug in to God so that I might hear or feel Him. I’m in a slump, and my batting average is tanking, fast.
Then I had this moment, in front of the blank Word doc, cursor flashing constantly at me, that I’d seen or read something before about some of these feelings I’ve been experiencing. So, I just typed in a few key words that came to mind into the ole Facebook search bar, and up popped this post from a pastor friend of mine:
And you know what? He’s absolutely right. And you know what else? Jesus lived this, as a shining example of what we should do. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Hello! Jessica, wake up! You just celebrated the greatest act of service the world has ever known – Easter! There is healing in serving. There is purpose in serving. There is value in serving. There is goodness in it, too. I am, by nature, a do-er. So, it stands to reason that serving in some way will bring me joy, or at least some sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. If nothing else, maybe peace. I can feel God by stepping into the acts of service available to me. People might experience His love because I showed up and lent a hand. In fact, the irony of this is that a few days after that post by my pastor friend, I found myself sweating and baking at the SMC Back-To-School event at Eastlawn Elementary. With a BIG SMILE ALL OVER MY FACE. Those students and families were so happy to be there, and it was contagious.
What does serving look like, though? For me, it’s volunteering some Sundays to help with children’s check-in at the worship services at St. Mark’s. Those little people are so excited to be there (okay, for the most part) and that’s also contagious. It’s also heading into the kitchen on some Sunday evenings to help with the meal preparation for Uprising. The teenagers are so happy to have a hot meal awaiting them, and they are so kind and appreciative. It certainly rubs off on us “old” folks. It’s contributing in some way (meaningfully, I hope) to these blog posts, and the SMCW Facebook Bible studies that run regularly. Often, I do hear Jesus in the commentary, and I am beyond grateful for that. When I’m plugged in, I don’t notice the slump nearly as much. When I’m involved, I don’t have idle time to fret over the valley I might very well be in.
Are you in a slump? Are you unplugged and wandering? Are you only hearing silence? I encourage you to join me in finding ways to involve yourself in Kingdom work. Maybe your heart lies with serving the homeless, or collecting food for the pantries around town. Maybe you love working with kids, and are looking for an opportunity to be a leader for a small group. Maybe you’re more hands on and DIY, and would enjoy outreach projects (like Habitat for Humanity, etc.). Or maybe you feel called to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child—it’s never too early or too late. Whatever your strengths are, I am cheering you on…go and do good things! I will too! Then we’ll all be a little better off and little less focused on the valley, because being in the valley maybe won’t matter so much. And remember what Paul instructed the followers of Jesus in the early church: “If your gift is serving others, serve them well…” (Romans 12:7).
*If you would like to learn more about opportunities to get involved at SMC, check out www.exploresmc.org/serve or contact anyone on the Staff Directory page with questions.