Another Sunday morning service…
another need mentioned from the pulpit.
The thing is, that particular Sunday wasn’t the first time that particular need was addressed. It was the third or fourth in a row…at least.
A track team from a Christian boarding school for at-risk kids would be in our town for a meet. Plans had been made for their athletes to spend some time with our church youth group following the meet. And housing was needed for the team Friday and Saturday evenings.
I couldn’t quite believe that this announcement had to be made repeatedly in our church of 1,000+ members. Why couldn’t we muster up enough beds for a couple dozen students for two nights?
I managed to continue ignoring the little voice nudging for my attention, reminding me yet again that my husband wanted to house three of the students. Seriously? I think we deserve a pass on this one. We already have six kids in our house…three of our own and three little boys we’re fostering.
Yes, we’ve more than met our “help those in need” quota.
Honestly, my husband was being quite ridiculous to even consider it. So I kept brushing off his tentative suggestions, knowing that if I stalled long enough, there would be enough volunteers without us offering the empty beds in our home.
So I couldn’t help but squirm in the pew when the announcement came yet another week.
Over lunch that afternoon, the proverbial rubber met the road.
“Jen, I really think we need to volunteer to keep some of those track team members.”
No longer casually offering an idea, my husband’s tone was firm.
I still didn’t answer him. I just looked down and sighed.
“That’s why we have this house, right? So we have room for anyone who needs a place to stay?” His voice was softer now.
My eyes slowly crept up to meet his as I took another bite.
Wisely, he didn’t say anything else, allowing me some time to process the truth of his words. To remember our God-given desire for our God-given home. To think beyond the chaos and incessant demands of 6 children and early mornings and interrupted nights and laundry and cleaning and cooking and…
Basically, to think beyond myself.
The bottom line was that we had plenty of room.
But I had put up the “No Vacancy” sign just because I assumed it was someone else’s turn.
I assumed this task wasn’t for me.
Yet my Jesus says, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
He gave His disciples this instruction as He sent them out to minister to the masses. I sort of suspect that He still wants us to operate by this principle today.
What would happen if I decided to give as freely as I’ve received? What would happen if we all gave as freely as we’ve received?
Instead of clinging tightly to all the fullness we’ve been granted — gifts of grace, completely undeserved…
what if we kept our full hands wide open so that anyone who has a need can find it met with our bounty?
What have you freely received? Health? Energy? Mobility? Shelter? Food? Clothing? Money? Education? Wisdom? Time? Love? Nurture? Family bonds? The good news of Jesus Christ?
When Jesus reminds you that you have freely received these things, and asks you to freely give them, will you tell Him no?
Because I’m afraid that’s exactly what we do.
I’m grateful for God’s leading through my husband over lunch on a Sunday afternoon. I’m thankful that my husband still clung tightly to one of our dreams — no, one of our callings — when my attachment to it had relaxed.
It was wonderful to meet the three athletes who stayed in our home that weekend. It was amazing to see how thoughtful and considerate and mature they were. It was a blessing to watch them interact with our six children…and to watch their initial shock over our family size become inspiration that a family could be open beyond its natural family ties. It was eye-opening to hear about a wonderful ministry that is helping teens in ways that are beautiful and practical and grace-full. It has been enriching to pray for that ministry and for those girls since that weekend.
My self-centeredness had given me a perspective that was entirely skewed. I saw inconvenience when God was really offering blessing.
So from now on, instead of assuming the pulpit announcements aren’t meant for me unless God’s own hand appears and writes a command on the sanctuary walls…
I just might assume they are for me, unless God indicates otherwise.
Will you assume it’s you?
Written by Jennifer Clarke