I like to mix up my quiet times. I am reading through the Psalms with a friend. I am doing a study on Genesis. There are a few apps with daily readings I will sometimes use. I might read a book on faith by a trusted voice.
There is a balance to be had between listening to others and letting God speak to us. Time with just His Word removes the filter of another’s perspective, and gets us over the “lie” that we don’t know enough, aren’t educated enough, etc. to come to God directly.
God left us 66 letters to tell us about His heart and His ultimate plan: to make us holy and images of Himself. It’s an overwhelming and downright scary idea. It’s one we shy away from. We are content to be His disciples, and He wants to make us like His Son.
To do that we have to give up comfort, control, stability, luxury. We have to get messy and in the mud. We have leave behind prejudice, superiority, cultural standards, and isolation of the “other” and wade into the deep.
But it is what God calls us to. We look at people like Mother Teresa, Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, Dietrich Bonheoffer and others and marvel at their faith. I would argue they were not any more courageous or bold than you or me. They just took their faith seriously and let God have control over their lives.
We are all called to live like those individuals. We might not be called to love the lepers of India, to be murdered trying to bring His Word to the isolated, or to stand up against an oppressive government. But we are called to live a life marked by Him.
Let me give you a simpler example. My mother. She is an incredible woman. She works at an organization that, by getting people in America to send money monthly for a child in the third world, is able to send that child to school, provide food, medical care, etc. It’s an amazing idea. But sometimes people just want to give but not want to write the child they sponsor. My mother stands in the gap and writes those kids. At last count she is writing over 100 of them. She is faithful in monthly writing these 100+ children, to answering their letters and ensuring they know someone loves them and is thinking of them. She has even had the chance to meet a handful of them. It’s a powerful testament really.
Her actions are having an impact for these children, their families and generations that we won’t know until we reach heaven. I really believe it. She hasn’t left it all behind to go live in Honduras. But she is doing something to affect the world around her.
What Can You Do?We have bought into this lie that to have our lives matter we have to do something extraordinary. We have to sell it all and move to the jungle. We have to start a shoe company that changes the world. We have to open a safe house in the worse part of the Red Light District.
If God calls you to that, amazing! But that calling will come from a walk with him. It is extraordinary – but you won’t go alone. God will be with you. God often gives us “simpler” ways to serve and love those around us.
For where you are, God could be calling you to:
- Serve at a homeless shelter.
- Become a CASA for a child in the foster care system.
- Take in a foster care child (or three).
- Offer the empty rooms in your home to a mother and her children who are homeless or want to leave a domestic violence situation.
- Sew quilts for nurses to wrap around preemie babies in the ICU.
- Cook chili once a week and take it down to the homeless in your area.
- Do a potluck quarterly for your block (or the floor of your apartment) so people aren’t so isolated.
- Start a bible study at the local juvenile detention center or jail.
- Put down your cell phone and engage with your children, take them outside, let them choose. Learn what it means to play with your children.
- Take your spouse out for a meal without your phones (or kids) and actually see them. Get to know them. Treat them like you did when you first met and that spark was everything. Love is a choice – so choose it with the one promised forever to.
- Ask someone to go lunch who you know is isolated, a stay at home mom, a co-worker, the older lady across the hall.
- Start a hiking group at your church.
- Volunteer your time for a local nonprofit for their annual fundraising event.
- Learn to be a ref for a local Paralympic sport. I tell you, wheelchair basketball, tennis, swimming, etc. is incredible to watch.
- Ask someone if they’d like to meet for a weekly Bible study.
- Support (or start) a local anti-trafficking group in your area.
- Collect toiletry bags and clothing for the police or local SANE nurses to give out to women they encounter.
- If you’re a photographer, volunteer your time to give teens in foster care senior photos, or to provide Christmas photos for low-income families or for parents of stillborn babies (find more here).
- If you’re a tattoo artist, volunteer your services for girls tattooed by their pimps to get them removed or remade. You can also do it for women who’ve had mastectomies (see here)
- If you’re a chef, offer to cook a gourmet meal for a foster care facility or ask your church if you can use a space in their building once a month and invite those in a four block radius to come get a free meal. (If your church says no – find a new church!).
- Help organize a shopping day or Christmas shop for low-income, homeless, or foster care families to come and get clothes and items for Christmas.
- If you are in a position to, offer an apprenticeship or training for a teen in foster care, a man getting out of prison, a mother re-entering the workforce after a divorce or leaving her husband who beat her.
- Do some research and find out what groups work with resettled immigrants in your community. Ask how you can help.
- Go to the local retirement facility and spend time with those who never have a visitor and are forgotten. Be there and love them.
- Offer hair cuts to those seeking to re-enter the work force who don’t have the funds to get one (see here).
- Coach a local teen sports league.
- Organize an event for all those who work from home to feature their businesses.
- Offer to help a woman start a stay at home business (some are really not that expensive), let her choose which one she feels she can really get behind.
- Lead a workshop on finances, budgeting, basic bank services, etc. for a local nonprofit working with the disabled, low-income, women starting over, those just released from jail, etc.
The possibilities are endless. But God does call us to action in some form. The key, as we’ll get to next week, is the attitude in which we are serving. If we are doing it out of obligation, pity or self-righteousness (a harder one to ID then you think), then we are just an annoying squawk with no purpose because we have lost the point entirely. People can tell when we are there for the wrong reason.
So what can you do? Take some time this weekend, leave the screens behind (computer, TV and phone). Find a quiet place in your home or go for a walk. Take your Bible, notebook and pen and let God talk.
I will do an entry soon on quietness/stillness but for now let me say – let it come. Your mind will be jumbled, you will get antsy, you will want to reach for the distraction of your phone. But stay with it. Anything worth doing makes us uncomfortable. If it didn’t, then we can do it on our own and where can God work in that?
Can you give God 10 minutes of your time? Ask Him to show you a place where you can love others around you.
It starts with being quiet before God on a regular basis. The rest will come. For now, find time in your day to meet with God and let Him show you who He really is.