We’re retired. It’s been two years now. Since we love to travel and have a fifth wheel, we looked into ways we could incorporate both of those into our life plan. Doors opened for us to volunteer at faith based camps while living part-time in our fifth wheel and in the fall of 2019 we had our first stint in eastern Oklahoma. After the first month we loved it so much that we quickly signed up for another month.
And it seemed we’d found our purpose.
Do you select a “word” for each year? I started doing this a couple years ago. Early in 2020 I selected my “word”. 2019’s word had been “grace”, and for 2020 I selected “servanthood”. After all, it went right along with our purpose and plans.
We right away signed up for more places to volunteer. Late February of 2020 found us on our first project of the year in a small camp northwest of Fort Worth, Texas. The wonderful people there work with children that have learning disabilities and/or social/emotional difficulties. Lovely little place way out in a very rural area on a gravel road, so peaceful and quiet. Perfect place to serve.
After 5 days of working there, my mother-in-love’s health condition deteriorated quickly and we abruptly returned to Kansas. She passed away two days later. We subsequently put a hold on our volunteering to work on selling her home and wrapping up other details.
And then, unless you’ve been living under a rock in a hallucinatory state you are well aware what happened next in 2020. The pandemic. Ugly old Coronavirus put a stop to life as we knew it. “We” being every person on the planet. Our opportunity to serve at faith-based camps took a hit.
It’s now the new year, 2021. It feels like my 2020 “word” of the year, servanthood, was a failure. We had been so very certain that God’s plan for us was traveling and volunteering. That was our vision of what servanthood would be. It was our purpose and plan.
Consider this scriptural reality: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”. Proverbs 19:21
Finding the Lord’s purpose in 2020 was not an easy thing for me. Discouragement was the easy thing. Simply B, with my promise of “simple stories and encouraging words”….. well Simply B is far, far from being immune to discouragement.
So what do I think God was trying to teach me, maybe you, too?
In the year 2020, when the world was upside down and “imprisoned” by a virus, God was still at work. It was the perfect opportunity for Him to strip away pre-conceived notions about what it means to follow Christ. For someone who firmly adhered to the practice of regular and dedicated church attendance, it was a real wake-up call. Following Christ, being His Church, doesn’t happen inside a church building sitting comfortably in a church pew. And it’s not a checklist of Things You Can Do To Prove You’re A Good Christian. Because, there is no way we can be good enough, do enough good things, to earn what Christ freely gives us.
It seems there’s something important here I need to learn. God can use us, God will use a servant heart even when that servant is unaware. I kind of think you and I will never know exactly how others have been helped by our simplest actions. If we could see what God sees we might be amazed by how the smallest insignificant seeming action was a real blessing to others. Life changing, even, if our actions point the way to Jesus. Maybe even just a smile or hug. Or a cup of water, etc., in His name. (Matthew 25: 34-40 if ya want to read what Jesus has to say) You and I just have no real comprehension of how God uses us to impact His world, His children. And that’s how it needs to be. We shouldn’t require pats on the back and high fives. The glory is His alone.
So what’s my word for 2021? I believe I’ll choose the word “Remember”. Because I so quickly forget that being a Christ follower isn’t about being good or doing good works. It’s about Jesus and His amazing love and grace that changes hearts and lives, accomplishing His purpose in big and small ways. Even when we have no idea how we’re part of His plan. It’s His work that he does through hearts committed to Him.
I want to remember to seek Him always, drop the worry tendency, and trust Him to use us however He sees fit.