"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

8/9/08

Service and Sacrifice (part 2)

On Thursday, I started a series on the many many blessings I received and thoughts I pondered from my reading of the August 7 devotional from Streams in the Desert. The poem below is part of a longer work in the devotional for that day. I may do a blog on each line, or perhaps just several. My first blog dealt with the fourth line of this stanza. Now I'm moving on to the third line.

1Has He purified you with the fire from above?
2Is He first in your thoughts, does He have all your love?
3Is His service your choice, and your sacrifice sweet?
4Is your doing His will both your drink and your meat?
5Do you run at His calling with glad eager feet?
(Streams in the Desert, L. B. Cowman, August 7)
I looked in the bathroom sink this morning and almost wished I hadn't. It was an unwelcome reminder of some things I needed to do that I had been avoiding.

I am not a natural neatnick. In fact, I am quite the opposite. There are few things I dislike as much as cleaning bathrooms, straightening, vacuuming, etc. To add to this, I am very good at not being bothered by messes I see. And so, I'm ashamed to say, I often avoid addressing these issues. When I do get around to doing the work, it is not with a joyful heart.

Yet, as a child of God and a wife, that is part of my "job"--at least in my house. Keeping the home is my responsibility, and a way of serving my husband and my God.

Ouch.

There are certainly other things I do for the Lord and/or my family that I (generally) do with a happy heart. Preparing dinner is generally done with a right attitude, as is (surprisingly enough) doing the dishes. My ministry of encouragement and writing are usually on this list as well, as is my "church back scratching ministry" to my husband (ask if you're curious. ;) )

I am certain that the Lord sees these acts of service and is pleased: not only with the acts, but with my attitude. I am choosing to do what pleases Him, and I am doing it with a gracious mindset.

But what about that dirty bathroom? Exactly the opposite. I am choosing not to serve until I absolutely must, and when I do, it is with frustration and regret in my heart.

That makes me a bit like Cain, doesn't it? I offered my service, I "made my sacrifice," but it certainly wasn't a sweet-smelling, pleasing one. In fact, it stank--more than that bathroom smell I ought to scrub away. And God is not pleased.

What God REALLY wants from me is for me to choose to serve him.
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 NIV
When we make a different choice--to avoid our duties, to put our focus on more "fun" things, we are serving a different master. And we know we cannot serve two masters.

God also desires that my sacrifices--my giving up of what I want for what He wants--be sweet. A willing heart is perhaps the best gift we can give to our Father. He certainly doesn't need us to do anything. He could clean my bathroom faster than I could blink my eye. He wants our hearts to be pointed toward Him.

And for me, I think that means I need to go clean that bathroom--and do it with a glad heart.

What do you need to do?

Heavenly Father, I so want to do Your will, to do the work You have given me to do. But Lord, sometimes my heart and my motivation are not in it. Help me, Lord, to make the choice to serve You first, and make my sacrifice sweet to You. Help me put You before everything else, and to serve You with joy. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

7 comments:

  1. Ohhhhhh myyyyyyyyyyy. I'm almost wishing I didn't read this one. YOu nailed me!!!!

    What wisdom, what sacrifice, what authenticity.

    Anointed message.

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  2. OUCH!How did you know EXACTLY what God put on my heart this morning??? I SO wanted to sit with the children and simply watch their friend be baptized, to enjoy the moment. Instead I was handed a camera and expected to take pictures. It was a real "come to Jesus" moment for me, especially since the sermon revolved around "consider it joy when you are faced with trials of all kinds." That, and I (supposedly) take pleasure in serving the Lord in whatever capacity he lays before me. I was so totally selfish - and pouted and complained that I didn't get to do what I wanted to do. As you saw, the photos came out great. Brad said he wished HE had a camera so he could take a picture of ME, on my knees on the platform with my head bowed as Pastor said a prayer. (He was ushering and "had" to watch instead of closing his eyes during the prayer.) You ROCK, Jo!!!

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  3. Wonderful truth here. I tell you what...

    You cook my dinner and I'll clean your bathroom.

    We all have our preferences, don't we?!

    peace~elaine

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  4. I could not agree with LauraLee more: what wisdom.

    What a reminder for me to offer my all to the service of Christ with joy...not with grumbling.

    Beautifully put.

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  5. In all we do, we should do it as unto the Lord as a living sacrifice. I agree that this is a big "OUCH!" for me. Time for me to seek God and make sure that all of my attitudes and motives are in the right place.

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  6. I wish you'd quit spying in my bathroom, Jo!! I'll go get that toilet brush and get it done...with a smile and a song. AND I'll do it again just before my dear man gets home in a few days. *roll*

    Attitude is sooooooo important.

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  7. Joanne,
    I just found your blog via your FW signature, and it seems we may have a "kindred spirit" thing going on! Wanting to love more, wanting to serve better, but it's that darn housework...
    I've subscribed, and I look forward to reading more from you. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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