Sunday, June 3, 2012

All In

Wanting and doing are often two very different things. That was played out this morning by my desire to be the "host" for church today so I could be the one to give the announcements and share with the congregation the need for more Vacation Bible School volunteers. I wanted to be the one to speak so I could make sure that the recruiting message would be spoken with clarity and enthusiasm. Instead I found myself staring at my notes, fumbling with words, and not feeling engaged with the people with whom I had so desperately wanted to connect. Here's a little of what I said:

Vacation Bible School is a children’s ministry that we’ve made clear as congregation we want to offer. I love this because I believe offering VBS is one way we demonstrate how deeply we value children. Two weeks ago Eric talked about that fact that we need one another, that community is important, so important in fact, that we need it to survive. When we pool our resources, there is always enough. Last week Gregg spoke about Jesus breaking down barriers. Christ is invitational and Jesus wants everyone to have access to a personal relationship with him.

These two themes on community and relationship couldn’t be a more perfect setup for asking you to be a part of VBS. As youth and adults coming together to serve children we are able to provide the care that the children who participate in VBS need. I really hope you’ll grasp on to the spirit of this year’s VBS, that anything is possible with God, and recognize that you have the ability, opportunity, and privilege to help a child know what it means to trust Jesus Christ!

I left the pulpit expecting that no new volunteers would arise from this morning's call to action. This very attitude and lack of faith shows how severely I need to kick my pride to the curb. I know at the head level that it's not my "delivery" that will make or break VBS recruitment. I understand that I can't create in others a desire to serve kids in the ways that I want/need them to for the sake of a certain ministry. But at a heart level, oh how I wish that I could inspire people to rearrange their priorities and put children just a little bit closer to the top. I want to be able to express in public the things that rattle around in my brain and burn a hole in my gut. It's this desire that keeps me going. So I will keep challenging myself to speak as an advocate for children.

It was easy to sit there in my pew and stew about my own shortcomings. Then today's scripture from Mark 12 made me see once again how blessed I am to serve a loving God, the merciful Jesus Christ, and the empowering Holy Spirit. Serving God is something we're asked to do with every ounce of our being. It's certainly not based on performance, results, or recruitment skills.

There is a debate in Christians circles as to how we should serve. Some say it's best to offer up our strengths - to do what you good at, to serve out of our "God-given gifts." Others say, God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. In our weakness Christ's power is made perfect. We might not be very good at what we're asked to do, but we are supposed to say "yes" anyway. So which one is it: do we serve out of our strengths or out of our weakness? 

In Mark 12, Jesus tells a story about a widow who put into an offering box a teeny tiny bit of money. The poor widow gave out of her poverty. At first glance this story seems to honor the widow because she gave out of her weakness. In essence she said to God, "I don't have much, but I'll give it all to you." But this morning I also came to see the widow as a woman who  gave out of her strength. Her strength was her tremendous faith. She gave to God all that she had, her mind, soul, heart, and personal well-being. The widow trusted God with every part of herself. She had strength that I admire. She was all in. I want to be that kind of person. Giving with all that I am, even when it feels like it's not much, and trusting God to be enough.

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