Has somebody ever humbled you so much that your mouth refused to obey your mind's orders to say something?
Yesterday, at church, a fellow Christian handed me my own head on a platter after a discussion we had. Word got around that I was planning my official withdrawal from a particularly ministry in which we both serve. Before I go any futher, let me give you a little synopsis of my situation:
I serve (well, more like "served") in a group, populated by young people. One of our missions was to serve our church through our ministry while also living to walk closer with Christ. Each of us were committed to devoting ourselves to the group, while leading the church through our efforts. Sounds good, right? Well, lately I've been having issues with the overall direction of our group. There are some mitigating circumstances involving our group that have led to my decision to call it quits.
That's where this story picks up...
During our conversation, I expressed my mounting frustation with our group and the church in general. While she listened, I could just feel the pendulum swinging in my direction. I just knew that I was right. It was only a matter of time before I reeled her in. But after I finished my pony and card show, she asked me -- with an unblinking eye -- one simple question: "While you're complaining about what you're not getting out of this group, what are you putting in to it?"
She nailed me. I felt like I was at a crowded shopping mall and the escalator just ripped my pants off (I know that only happens in cartoons, but it's fun to imagine...). As much as I wanted to find a reason to challenge her point, I realized that I had nothing left. She was absolutely correct. The only thing that I managed to force out of my mouth was, "Oh yeah? Well, what about you?" My lame comeback reminded me of the "I know you are, but what am I" defense that I used when I was six.
My futile attempts at fighting back were no match for the truth: I spend more time concentrating on what I don't get out of things and less time concentrating on what I put into things. I think that, in some respect, our service to God is like playing the stock market. We have to invest our resources before we capitalize on the returns. Simply put, before we can expect God to work for us, we must be willing to work for Him.
Back in the late nineties, Janet Jackson coined the phrase "What have you done for me lately?" in one of her hits. I can just see God asking me the same question whenever I ask Him for something. When I ask God for a particular blessing, I wonder if He responds by asking me:
- When is the last time you visited the sick?
- When is the last time you made a visitor feel welcomed?
- When is the last time you gave from your heart?
- When is the last time you prayed for your enemies?
- When is the last time you studied My Word?
- What have you done for Me lately?
Talk about an eyeopener.
Now, does this mean that I'm going to stay in this particular ministry? Probably not. In fact, I highly doubt it. Frankly, with this group, I feel like I've put my best foot forward -- with absolutely no return. This particular group just isn't a good match for me. But, this is not to say that I can't find an area within the church where God can use me or, more importantly, where I can serve Him.
At the end of the day, it's not about what God does in my life. It's about what I do for Him.