Friday, July 23, 2010

When Jesus asks you to volunteer

Read on to see what happens when God says "not now" to your plans and signs you up for something better. See if you can relate!
This summer . . . I had plans. But when they fell through, I got quiet and started watching and listening for opportunities Jesus might want for me instead. The result follows.

I planned to make money to fund my seminary education. And, despite due diligence, several projects fell through due to timing or being postponed.

Jesus asked me to volunteer to lead a Sunday night Bible study for women in drug and alcohol recovery at a local rehab house. We're reading through the gospel of John in The Message Bible. Wow. I'm seeing the power of God's Word at work in a fresh and real way.

Before I knew it, my friend and I were also on the hook to teach resume-building and interviewing skills. Someone else donated money for Bibles for these ladies. The ripple effect!

I so desperately wanted to serve patients at the hospital this summer while fulfilling a chaplaincy credit for seminary. But at the last minute, it got canceled.

Instead, Jesus asked me to take cookies to my new neighbor--and then to bring over chicken salad with croissants when her father fell ill. He asked me to fill in for my Sunday School teacher about four times, leading a class of men and women, which is new for me. He also asked me to share life with about 20 fifth and sixth graders at my church's Vacation Bible School. 

Perhaps most of all, I wanted to get pregnant this summer.

Jesus has asked me to acknowledge and live out my God-given role as a life-giver, whether I have any children or not. So I invited a ten-year-old girl out to lunch. She lost her mom to cancer last year and lives with her dad and five brothers. For just an hour and a half, I offered up a little bit of mothering and was blessed by this young woman's unbelievable grace and love for God's Word. My life-giving also extends to two developmentally-different brothers at church, one of whom sits with us sometimes. On some Sundays, their friend Joe tells me I am "gorgeous AND sweet." Really, what could be better?

Yesterday, I had a volunteer shift at a local hospital, sitting with someone who is dying with no friends or family to be there. And it struck me how we come into this world like we go out...helpless, sometimes frightened, just wishing for a warm touch. And so I held this person's hand, while realizing that life-giving comes in a million different forms. In fact, we must have a hundred opportunities to "give life" daily through our interactions. But how often do we choose to give life? 

Unless we quiet every noisy beep and ring and distraction and listen to Jesus. I'm not speaking of anything mystical and strange. Just quieting your heart so you can feel the stirrings that come as you focus on God and His Word, while also watching for the work God is doing around you--work that you could participate in. And when we let Him know it's OK to ask us to volunteer--that we'll be ready for our next assignment--then our eyes start to open to opportunities, and we'll do what He asks when it sometimes goes against what we had planned.

I didn't initially want what I got this summer. I planned for something entirely different and kicked and screamed when the results of my planning seemed to backfire everywhere I looked. God had something else in mind, and I'm finally starting to appreciate His "plan B"--which we all know is not a "plan B" at all in His economy.

You see, I'm starting to see what He's really asking from me is "availability." He's not always asking me to drop everything. He just wants to know that I will if He has a more important assignment for me at present. Back in May, I had a tight grip on my plans, and an agenda, and GOALS. I still have summer goals, but several of them have been postponed.

Jesus was asking me to volunteer, you see, and He didn't want anything messing with His plans.

What has Jesus asked you to volunteer for? What did the volunteering teach you about yourself and what you have to offer in God's Kingdom? How did it touch others? Please share.


  1. Suzy,
    Your blog posts are wonderful. It's inspiring to read how God is working in your life..

    I just read this morning, Prov 16:1 "Mortals make elaborate plans but God has the last word." Seems like a great verse to remember...


  2. Hope you get to spend more time with the 10 year old, but sometimes, even only a meeting can make a lifetime impression of value, worth, love and care. Sounds like a really great summer to me! Thank you for the aha post. Blessings ><{{{*> Suzanne J