Growing up in the church I often felt that I could never measure up. As I teen I became frustrated as I would try to "be good" only to discover that I messed up again. It wasn't until I was older...after some complete failures...that God revealed His great love for me. I remember the Sunday while singing in the church choir (powerful worship is amazing) that I felt the love of God...the real, powerful, life-changing love of God. I can't explain it. But I knew, in that moment, I would NEVER be the same.
I remember wanting God to use me but felt so inadequate. It was during a time of fasting and prayer that the Lord spoke to my heart...
"Michele, you don't have to be perfect, just available."
And from that day forward I felt as if my entire vision-the way I saw myself and my life was put into focus for the first time.
My husband and I graduated from Blue Ridge Bible College with some big dreams for our future. Many of those dreams have yet to become a reality, while other dreams and hopes were changed as God put new ones in our hearts. But one vision has never changed-the vision to serve the "forgotten" in our community.
Who are the "forgotten?" You know, the guy sitting next to you on the bus that smells like a brewery. The drug addict that will sell her body for the next high. Or how about the family with all those secrets locked in a closet.
I don't know any little girl who says "I want to grow up and be the town whore." Or any guy who dreams of being so addicted to pornography that he loses everything. Or how about the one who never wanted to be molested or raped.
Everyone has a story. And what is so amazing about our God, is that your life story can be changed.
As parents, we have always tried to cultivate a heart for others in our children. We have worked hard to teach them to love...even the unlovable. They have often heard me say:
"Oh BUT for the grace of God there goes I."
As a family, we have served in soup kitchens, provided meals for homeless shelters, went around town handing out blankets and packed lunches to those living on the streets, and worked together in our church food bank. Serving together as a family is a lifestyle!
"If you can't feed a hundred people then just feed one."
In Luke chapter 5 we find the Apostle Peter on a smelly fishing boat with some broken nets. Yet, Jesus used what Peter had...what he made available. Who would have thought that Peter...you know, the guy who cut the soldier's ear off in a moment of rage, cussed, and even denied that he knew Christ would stand and give the open sermon for the New Testament Church. The God I serve will use ANYONE who will make themselves available to Him.
And what about Mary, the mother of Jesus? There were probably 1000's of virgins in Galilee at that time. But Mary was the one who went down in history. WHY? In Luke 1:38 we read,
"And Mary said, Behold the handmaiden of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word." In other words, "I am available Lord!"
This holiday season, open your hearts to serving those in your community. It can be as simple as donating socks to the local homeless shelter or providing a ride for an elderly person to the grocery store. Send a text message with a word of encouragement to those who may have lost a loved one, volunteer at a holiday food give away, or purchase a toy for a Christmas toy drive.
Serving others does not come naturally to everyone. Being brave and putting yourself out there for God to use can be scary at times. You will need to stretch your borders, let go of some pre-conceived ideas, and grasp the concept that not everyone wants your "charity." Most will not even say thank you. But your children are watching....and learning. God will bless the seeds that you sow.
Somebody somewhere is depending on YOU to do what God has called you to do. You just need to be available!
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How do you show your kids that you are available? Let me know in the comment section below!
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