For anyone that knows me well, they know I like quotes. I like to post them, think on them, even pattern my life around them in some cases. This one has become my new favorite quote. We are studying the book of James in Sunday School, and our teacher used this yesterday morning. It's by Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois:
“I would never want to reach out someday with a soft, uncalloused hand ~ a hand never dirtied by serving ~ and shake the nail-pierced hand of Jesus!”- Bill Hybels
Wow. What a thought. Let's face it- any of us that have ever been in ministry know that it is hard work. I struggle a little with the phrase "called to ministry". Yes, that phrase typically is used for those that serve God's church full-time, but that doesn't mean that laypeople or volunteers are any less called.
I accepted my "call" to the ministry while at Junior High Camp in Cleaveland, TN when I was in the 6th grade. I literally felt the hands of Jesus on my body as the speaker at camp asked us to move if we felt God speaking to us. I flashed back, in that moment, to the time I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 9 years old. I walked the aisle to publicly tell my church at revival services. As the invitation was being played, with my head bowed and eyes closed, I felt a hand on each of my shoulders guide me out of the pew and down the aisle. I looked up to see if it was my dad, who was standing beside me and knew of my plans to walk that aisle. But, no- it was my Heavenly Daddy, prodding me to tell my church of what He'd done in my life. Back to my camp experience, I felt the same hands, and, because I'd felt them before, I knew them. I knew that touch, that expression of love. My heart had been heavy all week- still to this day I'm not sure exactly why, but that night, I was able to finally tell my Jesus that I was ready to serve Him with my life. Did that mean moving to a third-world country? I didn't know. It didn't matter. He'd asked me to commit to serving Him, and I did. And, again, because I knew the hands that led me out of my chair and into the dark night and onto my knees on a patch of grass in a national forest, I knew that no matter where He led me, He'd be with me all the way. "All the way my Savior leads me..."
Now, to the reason I bring up this quote. There are many places, many ways to serve Jesus and His church. Some are in very public ways- singing, preaching, teaching. Others are in very private ways- praying over services, writing notes to homebound members, answering telephones. Notice I DIDN'T say "some are in big ways, and some are in small ways". In my eyes, NO ministry is small. It takes all kinds to minister. Why? Because those being ministered TO are "all kinds". God didn't call everyone to sing in the choir. If we were all in the choir, there would be no one in the congregation listening and receiving the musical Word. God didn't call everyone to teach Sunday School. If so, there would be no classes to teach. God didn't call everyone to pick up the left over bulletins after each service. If so, we'd never get to eat lunch. (OK, that one was funny, but you get my point).
Yes, in order to make services at church work, it takes us all. It takes someone to make the coffee, it takes someone to put out the chairs, it takes someone to stuff the bulletins we all use. It takes someone to type in the words we read on the walls. The trend? It takes SOMEONE. And guess what? SOMEONE is all-encompassing. SOMEONE is not gender-specific or age-specific. It just takes SOMEONE.
Sweet Jesus, please remind me every day that my service to Your church is my service to You. Admittedly, service is hard, messy, and sometimes downright exhausting, but You already know that, right? Please find in my heart a willingness to serve- to get dirty, to push myself, even to tire myself out. Because, as You proved in Your scriptures, You speak to dirty, pushed, tired people. You use even those people. Because, in the end, it's the dirty, pushed, and tired that You look for. It's those people that need You. It's those people who's hearts are open to You. I pray that You find my hands to be dirtied and calloused by the service I've offered to You. May they be my gifts- my offerings- that help bring people to You. You have a work to do in this world, and because it's Your promise to fulfill, You'll get it done either way- with our without me. I pray that I'm the vessel You choose to use to fulfill Your promise, whatever that may be. I pray that I'm ready and willing to be used. Find in my heart an openness, so that when You look for a servant, You don't pass by because I'm not ready. Use me. Let me be Your hands and Your feet. Move me out of myself, out past my attitudes and actions, so that Yours shine through. I want to radiate You more than I want to reflect You. Radiating You means You're so inside me that You can't help but shine through. In my life, be lifted high.