Stand Ready to Serve
The less we hold on to what we want, the happier we shall be. If we find our life – our way, what we want, the pleasures, recognition, security we crave – then we shall lose it. It is an odd rule of God’s world that if you live for yourself, you eventually lose everything that matters most. If you live for him, even if you seem to lose everything, you find and are given everything. Our Father gives us everything, when like his Son we become servants.
This is a way of life that is not of this earth. The moment we grasped the forbidden fruit, we chained ourselves to self as God. Self asserting itself and demanding its rights created Molech, Babel, and Artemis – baby-killing, globalist, sensualists. These demon-gods and their cohorts are nothing but self killing us in various forms of pretended freedom from God. Fallen self, the sin-enslaved nature will not let go. It is a hydra. God alone can break the chains and cut off its heads.
Think carefully. God made us for himself. He made us to be happy when we are serving him, when pleasing him pleases us. Because he made us, he knows what is best for us and what will fulfill the purpose of our existence. When we release our demands and stop pouting and punishing those who oppose us getting what we want and instead stand ready to do what he wants, we have learned the secret of life. We have chosen the path of joy. We shall not always feel joyful immediately. He sometimes delays his smile to see if we are committed, or to chasten, or simply to give us an edge of hunger for him. In time, in little moments, he will make us feel his pleasure in our serving him.
All the misery in the world is because man rejects the purpose of his creation and therefore his own peace and happiness. He rejects the notion that he was created to be happy in serving his God. Few learn this in prosperous times. Abundance is a blessing, but we turn it into a spiritual sedative. It remains hard for rich men to enter God’s kingdom. If we had no homes, had to wait daily for our daily bread, thanking him at the table before any food was on the table, perhaps we would be content simply to serve him and live at his pleasure.
But few actual refugees learn this. If plenty is a sedative, poverty and hunger are stimulants to anger, covetousness, and every form of lawlessness. Rich or poor, we must be broken. We must be born again before we shall ever stand ready and happy simply to serve our God and to find in pleasing him our true peace and purpose.
God’s normal way to break us is through affliction, but it must be explained to us through the word’s confrontation and illumination. Both affliction and the word are necessary. Without affliction, we are unwilling to listen to someone, even God, telling us that our way is not good. Something has to stand in our way and oppose our willfulness, even if only Balaam’s ass. Sin has tenacious energy that only God can drain (Isa. 57:10). Without the word, hard times will simply make us mad at God and bitter against everyone else. If we are willing to be sifted, taught, confronted by his word, self can be slain and the heart made ready to find its peace and God’s pleasure in self-forgetfulness and serving others quietly.
We need not look far for opportunities. If you want to serve God, he knows this, and he is preparing you to be a fit vessel for his use. It is not every vessel, not every man or woman, he will use, but only vessels that he empties of self and creates in them a hunger for him and righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Start in your home – love without trumpeting, serve without complaining or expecting recognition, take criticism meekly. Seek in the prayer closet to be emptied and to be filled with God’s fullness in Christ. Bear the cross in your home – look for it. It is there.
Look at life not as an exercise of futility or what everyone is costing you in terms of time, energy, money, or frustration. Ask instead, “How can I spend and be spent for my God and for his people?” Is there a child that needs consoling for the hundredth time? Does your husband need encouragement when you want to criticize him? Remember that the people around you are eternal souls with a royal destiny. The King loves nothing better than your serving them as you would him. Service is also the door to his treasure house of happiness – kneeling down and washing feet.
The Lord of glory obtained his throne by becoming the lowest of the low. The Son of God became a servant (Phil. 2:7). Satan’s path to greatness was thus denounced and trounced, even completely reversed. The creature’s greatness lies not in pulling God from his throne but in being absolutely consumed with doing God’s will and lifting him up – as Jesus Christ did his Father. The creature must recognize his creatureliness and his purpose – to serve his Maker. Then, he has freedom and peace, for then he fulfills the purpose of his creation and lives under God’s smile.
The recovery of our right placement before God – he is our Maker and we exist to serve him – also helps with adversity. The disease diagnosis, the sudden (or expected) death of a loved one, or some new chaos in the unsettled world of men (Isa. 57:21) – these things can throw us off our course if we allow them to do so. They have no power but what fear and unbelief give to them, but still they must be faced and fought. One part of our anchor must surely be the conviction that we exist to serve God and do his will, and that includes walking through the valley of the shadow of death. If he wants me to serve in obscurity, or forgive yet another offense, or suffer with this disease, or cook yet another meal, then I am pleased to serve him. My life is his. He bought it with his own blood, and now all that I do should be a love-gift back to him.
It is a fine thing to speak of “glorifying and enjoying God” when all is calm and bright, but it is usually not for the children of God, who are tested and refined. But calm and bright are the settled reality that no bad news can break, if we settle in our hearts that God’s glory and pleasure are our life. Then, Christ’s peace can be enjoyed through tears, loss, and funerals without being unfeeling. We must fight for this; faith must fight. God has made us for hard moments also. He is pleased for us to pass through this trouble. We do not know why, and it is unnecessary for God to explain himself to us. We could not understand. It is enough for us to know that he loves us and will never bring anything into our life that does not bring him into our lives– if we will yield to him and trust his wisdom.
So, we must remember our place. We are not here for ourselves. The moment we start thinking like this, we settle for less than God would give and show us if we would but yield to him. We must awaken in the morning, even if it is Monday, and not say, “What will make me feel better today,” or “cut down on the annoyances in my life,” but, “What will please you, blessed Father, gracious Savior, and illuminating Spirit?” We have been purchased at a high price. Work, family, inconveniences, weariness, youth, old age, plenty, parties, new things, old things, same things – all for God – none of us lives or dies for himself. If we will stand ready to serve God in this way, each day has its new opportunities, its silver linings, its eternal significance, its enjoyment of God’s promised peace and presence.