“Who wants to help Mommy make dinner?” I asked with as much gusto as I could muster this evening. “Me!” squealed Violet, running into the kitchen in her green sparkly crown and princess dress.As I pulled a chair up to the counter for Vi, I asked Evy if she’d like to help too. “No, I’m too tired from exercising,” she declared with an arabesque while dancing out of the room.
Violet is a two and a half year old master at ripping lettuce for salads and kale for soups. We enjoyed our time in the kitchen tonight and I was proud of my little helper. But what occupied the back burner of my thoughts tonight was an increasing conviction from the Holy Spirit.
Recently Pastor Brian had our church staff and leadership read the book Doing Church as a Team by Wayne Cordeiro. The following quote has haunted me since I read it, “The amount of influence we will have on our generation is up to us. And if we choose poorly, He will open the privilege of involvement to others who are more willing.” More willing? Now wait a minute, Wayne. I’m willing, aren’t I? Don’t I want to participate in God’s great plan of salvation? Don’t I want to take up the ministry of reconciliation, free the oppressed, go and make disciples, the whole nine yards? Or is this more realistic:
Me Okay, Lord, I’m working on my “to do” list for the week. My list is filling up pretty quickly. Anything You want me to add to my list with all the rest of this stuff I need to get done? Laundry,
groceries, dishes, cleaning, take kids here, go to this meeting … what’s that, Lord? Reach out to so and so? Um … okay, let’s see if I can squeeze that in …
God Our “to do” lists look pretty different, Daughter.
Me What’s on your list?
God A better question might be WHO is on My list? Would you like to know who is on My heart?
Me Um … (hesitantly, knowing it’s going to be just one more thing to add to my list of stuff to do) …Yeah, I guess so. Sure.
God You were on my list once. Remember that? Do you remember when I found you and brought you home?
Me Lord, I was so young, I don’t even remember praying “the prayer.”
God Well, I remember! Those words are precious to me. You are my child now and I have great plans for you!
Me I have to be honest, Lord, sometimes Your great plans for me feel more like a burden, like
another job to get done. I feel guilty saying that, Lord, because I know that’s the wrong attitude to
have. I know You want me to talk to that neighbor about You, but I just feel so awkward bringing it up
when we’re talking about the weeds in our lawns. And I know You want me to spend more time reading the Bible with my kids, but after dinner, diapers, dishes, and baths there just doesn’t seem to be time!
And I know You want me to invite that friend to church but I just don’t know if she’d feel comfortable because she had a bad experience at church. And I don’t even think she’d fit in at our church. Lord,
I’m sure Your plans are great, but they’re also inconvenient, awkward, and time consuming. No offense, God.
Sound familiar? Until recently, I was pretty entrenched in this mindset. I was a spiritual wimp, a bench sitter. I’m ashamed of it. I’m embarrassed of the fact that I lost sight of God’s heart for the lost. I lost sight of my purpose, the whole reason I’m still here. I can make excuses for it, justify it, dance around my lack of faithfulness to my calling, but a good tree bears good fruit (Matthew 7:17) and that wasn’t the case with me. Can you relate?
Let’s return to the scene tonight in the kitchen where I invited my daughters to help me cook. As Pastor Brian reminds me, you can only take an analogy so far, but let’s just briefly compare this situation to God’s “to do list.” One of my daughters, Violet, enthusiastically joined me and the other, Evy, nonchalantly rejected me. Evy’s behavior, though it was mildly annoying, didn’t change my love for her or her identity as my daughter. However, because Violet chose to come and work alongside me, we had a shared experience. We worked shoulder to shoulder, chatting, telling secrets, pretending that the kale stalks were a family. Since she was right beside me, she got to share in the tasting, and as dinner was served, she and I shared the compliments. I guess ultimately I wanted her to share in my work not because I needed her help but rather because I wanted her help, I wanted her to learn to do things the way I do them, I wanted to share my time with her, I wanted her presence, just as the Lord wants yours.
God’s not done with me, and He’s not done with you either, for that matter. The Holy Spirit is at work in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (Phil. 2:13). And because the Spirit has done such a work of grace in me, I am compelled to call you off the bench too, and back out on to the field. We have to stop making excuses. The Kingdom plans the Lord has laid out for us are not a burden! The Lord will equip us with everything we need to reach those on His heart. He has already given us the tools, and they’re called “gifts”- and the more we unwrap our spiritual gifts, the greater our joy will be in sharing the Giver’s work! Give ’em Heaven!
For the Kingdom, Crystal