On this past Monday, the Lord shared with me what it really means to serve at my church. Serving is more than just teaching Sunday school or singing on the praise team. Sometimes serving is sweeping the church, vacuuming the carpet, picking the trash off the floor, just to name a few.
I work with some pretty cool people on my job, but there is one young lady who started recently that is teaching me a lot about attitude and character. First of all, she was hired for one position, but right now the company needs her to work in the area that is needed the most. What I love about her is that no one has to tell her what she needs to do and she does what is asked of her. She doesn’t complain, she is very helpful and always cheerful.
One day, a patient told her that one of the public restrooms needed to be cleaned. She never turned around and said, I’m not doing it. Who wants to do it? She immediately found gloves and cleaned the mess. Yes, the new girl!
Now, I’ve been there for almost four years and if it was me, my attitude would have been, They don’t pay me enough to clean no restroom. That is not in my job description.
But that’s the wrong attitude. You see, I want God to trust me with doing the ‘big’ things, but He is not going to give me the ‘big’ things until I faithfully do the ‘little’ things. Maybe your attitude was like mine. You don’t think you should do certain things. You think you’re better than that. That’s not your job. That’s someone else’s job. But the truth is – we’re not better than anyone else. If I clean at home (without pay), then what was the problem?
To serve means to obey. It also means to be of use – not when you feel like being used, but when you are needed. Sometimes you will have to go out of your way. Sometimes it will be inconvenient for you, but convenient for others. We don’t see it this way, but when you serve, you become the answer to a problem. Isn’t that what we want to be? An answer and not the problem. People have enough of their own problems. They are looking for an answer.
One of the things managers and pastors love is when they don’t have to always tell you to do something. They like it when you don’t wait for someone else to do it, but you see what needs to be done and you do it.
Even though the Lord was dealing with me about serving at my church, we should also serve well at home, on our jobs or wherever God sends us. Our attitude should be that we are doing it for the Lord, not for people (Colossians 3:23). Serve Him with gladness. Become a cheerful giver (and not just with your money). Don’t offer Him sacrifices that are blind, sick, or broken (Malachi 1:8; Leviticus 22:22), but give Him what You want Him to give you. Give Him your best!
I was raised a certain way and there were areas of my life where I needed to be disciplined, but I wasn’t disciplined. I’m not blaming the people who helped raised me, but for most of my life I’ve been like the ones who stood idle, waiting for someone to ‘hire’ them (Matthew 20:6-7). I didn’t look for something to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). I waited for someone to tell me what to do.
But even though I’ve been that way for a long time, you know what?
I can change.
In 1 Kings 17:2-3, the Lord told Elijah to hide by a brook. When he did what God told him to do, God took care of him. Not only did he have water to drink, but God commanded the ravens to feed him every morning and evening. One day, the brook dried up because there was no rain.
If God commanded the ravens, surely He could have commanded the brook, but He allowed the brook to dry up. Prior to this, Elijah was satisfied. He was comfortable. He didn’t have a thirst or a hunger for anything, but now he did. He wasn’t satisfied with where he was and he didn’t want to remain in that condition anymore.
The word of the Lord came to Elijah. Not only did God tell him to move, but He told him where to move to. Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you (vs 9). Sometimes God leaves out the details. He never told Elijah that the widow woman had a need. All He told him was that she would feed him.
When he arrived at the gate of the city, he saw the widow gathering sticks (I guess that meant she was about to cook something). He asked her for some water. As she was going to get the water, he asked for a morsel of bread. First, the woman told him what she didn’t have. I have not a cake (vs 12). Then, she told him what she did have – a handful of meal in a barrel, a little oil in a cruse and two sticks. This was her last meal and this meal wasn’t just for her, but it was for her son also.
This woman didn’t want to die and she didn’t want her son to die, but she was preparing to die because she didn’t know what else to do. She didn’t know where her next meal was coming from. It didn’t look like things were going to get better and now she had a man – a perfect stranger – asking her, an unmarried mother, for her last.
I hear the conversations of single mothers from time to time. They love their children, but sometimes they are tired – tired of raising their children alone, tired of the daily routine, tired of trying to provide, tired of missing field trips and Awards Day. It hurts when you can’t do what you would like to do for your children. You want them to enjoy their childhood. You want them to be happy. You don’t want them to worry about adult things such as bills and other responsibilities.
I can only imagine how strong this woman was trying to be for her son. She was trying to keep it together, but sometimes we just want someone to come and ‘save’ us. You know, take care of all our problems. Well, God did send a man in her life, but He didn’t send him to be her husband. (I had to point that out because sometimes a single woman/mother is so anxious to be married or in a relationship that she confuses ‘help’ with ‘husband’). Elijah didn’t give her any food or money. He didn’t get her out of debt or out of poverty, but he showed her how to get out. He showed her how to trust again. All she had to do was obey the instructions. All she had to do was give the very thing that she was afraid of losing.
Sometimes we are so focused on what we want that we don’t see what others need. Let’s look at it this way: Had Elijah not moved, the widow and her son would have died. Our obedience to God is so important. It was so easy for Elijah to get comfortable at the brook. It was so easy to trust God for the things he could see. Life was good. He had water, bread, and meat every day, but God didn’t send him there to stay. He was only there to pass through. I’m sure he got used to the daily routine. I bet he thought he had God figured out. He knew exactly what time the raven would feed him, but when the brook dried up and the raven stopped coming, he had to trust God through a woman who only had a handful of meal, a little oil and two sticks. The widow was being tested, also. Whoever is faithful with little will also be faithful with much (Luke 16:10).
I wanted to know how far and at what length this man went to obey God and to meet this widow. What was the distance between Cherith and Zarephath? One source on the internet reported it was approximately 85 miles. Another source reported it was between 80 to 100 miles. I don’t know if Elijah got there by foot or by a horse, but that was a long journey if you didn’t have a car. Did he get tired along the way? Did he want to stop? Did he want to turn around? Did he eat? Did he drink? What did he have to give up?
Just like Elijah, you will never have to worry about your need when you put HIS kingdom first. God will supply your need according to His riches in glory. So if you’re lacking in an area, it’s probably in the area that you refuse to give to God or to trust Him in. When the widow woman gave her last, she and her household had a lot left over (1 Kings 17:15).
I know you have these great ideas and plans about what you want to do, but God has a better plan – and it includes more than just you. The devil may have used you in the past to hurt and to betray people, but God is going to use you to help people.
God is going to allow some things to happen – not to hurt you or to punish you, but to cause you to make the decision to move. I’m not talking about moving to another city or to another state. I’m talking about moving toward His purpose for you – moving toward the reason why you were born. If you don’t move, you will never discover who you are and in case no one ever told you – You are a blessing. God knitted you together in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. The word God placed in your mouth is like a hammer that breaks a rock into pieces and the anointing on your life is able to destroy the yokes of many.
This is why you can’t remain where you are.
You have dwelled in your feelings, fear, self-pity, isolation and hurt long enough. It is time to get up and leave those things behind. It is time to turn (change; repent), take your journey and go to where God is leading you (Deuteronomy 1:6-7, paraphrase). Don’t be ashamed of where you came from. Don’t be ashamed of the things you have done. Don’t even compare yourself to others. Do what the widow did and use what you have. God is going to give you instructions. They will be simple, not hard and difficult.
We were created to do more than what we are doing. As sons and daughters of God, we don’t have to stand idle because no one will hire us (Matthew 20:6-7). There is plenty of work to do. The harvest is plenteous (Matthew 9:37), but you won’t realize this until you stop looking after your own things and start looking on the things of others (Philippians 2:4).
Someone has a need and they are praying for you to move.