Saturday, September 24, 2011

Self: Moving from -Ish to -Less

I could do more for others than I do. Easily. But I'll be honest: for the most part, I don't feel convicted that I need to do more. I say "for the most part" because I've felt led, lately, to sponsor a child; I'm hoping that's in my family's near future.

Words like "extreme" and "radical" scare me, when it comes to the Great Commission, or living out the Gospel, in general. I'm not interested in speaking out against those more zealous than I (provided they are truly helping--not harming--others), but I'm not interested in joining them, either.

I am where I am, and I hear the wordless whisperings of God. I feel His palms pressing against the walls of my heart. I've got Him; He's got me; and no one's quitting anybody. We've places to go, together: the Lord and I. And we're not in a particular hurry.

Having said that, I'd like to share with you some things I've found possible over the past five or so years:
  • E-mailing or writing words of encouragement or prayer from my desk, at work. I did try to be considerate toward my employer and use "break time" for this. Sometimes I was asked to relieve someone at the front desk or in the library, and I felt comfortable e-mailing or writing, then, too.
  • Praying for others while caring for a baby in the middle of the night, or driving. This practice goes a long way toward helping me remain calm and avoid frustration.
  • Praying with others over the phone. This felt awkward, at first, but it's ministry I can pull off at home, in my penguin pajamas.
  • Writing prayers for others, from home (again, often in my pjs), on paper and via e-mail, facebook, and the comment boxes on blogs. I try not to write: "I'll pray for you," preferring, instead, to write out prayers.
  • Preparing and delivering meals to others. I'm not going to lie: this has intimidated, here and there, with the little ones. But, honestly? I’ve watched God hush and lull my babies so I could accomplish His purposes. The great thing about this ministry is that I can take the children with me.
  • Preparing and providing unleavened bread for the Lord’s supper, at my church.
  • Visiting adult homes. I've tried four different ones, with the children. My favorite--and the one to which I return, over and over--is very small (6 residents, currently) and very clean. My babies minister as much or more to the residents as I.
  • Taking our friends from the adult home on field trips. One friend is extremely agile and can go most anywhere with the children and me. I need helpers to take the others but very rarely have a hard time finding them.
  • Making hospital and home visits. I've done this very infrequently since the babies have been born, but there've been times that I've known the Lord was calling me to go. I'm blessed to have a husband who will do anything he can to support me on these occasions. Generally, he waits in the minivan with the children while I visit.
  • Spending time and/or praying in person with those who need a friend and don’t mind sharing my company with my children.
  • Making my home available for Bible studies.
  • Teaching (classes, conferences) and singing within the church, if childcare is available. You'll notice from the list above: for the most part, I avoid ministry that requires me to leave my children behind. Having said that, I think it's healthy for the children and me to take little breaks from one another, sometimes!
  • Sharing my faith in person and over the Internet.
As I review the above list, I guess what excites me most is that I can tell you, honestly: I used to say things like: "I've lost myself," or, "I can't find myself." And I don't say those things, anymore, because I don't feel that way, anymore. It's been in giving myself away that I've found myself.

And, please: hear me! I'm no saint! I've done and said things, in my lifetime, that repulse me in the remembering. I'm a self-centered, selfish person! 

In fact (and this is my favorite, dirty little secret), I am absolutely self-centered and selfish enough to give, in part, because the more I give, the more I get. And I'm not talking about from the people to whom I give. I'm talking about from He who has His nail-scarred palms pressed against the walls of my heart.

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