Do you ever feel like God’s put you on the shelf—indefinitely? You long to serve, to do something significant, but life seems to get in the way in the form of:
endless diaper changing and naptimes;
caring for a sick family member;
chronic illness that leaves you bedridden or home bound;
an over-demanding schedule?
Countless things can get in the way of our service—of our living out God’s mission for our lives … if we let them. And during those times, it’s easy to feel insignificant and ineffective.
But God doesn’t shelf Christians. I believe He has a vitally important job for us to fulfill—one only we can do—at each stage in our lives, from the diaper-changing phase to our nursing home years.
Often, it’s not our circumstances that hold us back, but instead, our view of them.
The Bible tells us to live carefully, actively, and intentionally:
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV).
This means being alert to God moments, whether we are cleaning toilets or serving in large ministry roles. Because God is always at work, showing His love and grace in every situation.
Rita* loved reaching out to the lost and serving in ministry. But then motherhood came, and her schedule turned crazy. How could she serve God when finding time for a shower was so difficult? As home-life demands increased, her discouragement grew. She longed to serve, to make an eternal impact and expand the gospel, but her time was dominated by diaper changing. She began to think perhaps she’d fallen into a dead-bolted storage room.
But God saw things differently, and in His infinite wisdom and grace, had placed her precisely where He wanted her.
You see, a single mother lived across the street, someone who needed a friend to stand beside her during the tedious diaper changings, snot-nose wiping, and lonely days. This woman desperately needed the love of God, demonstrated through one of His children.
Once Rita started making the most of every opportunity, her entire perspective changed, and what once seemed tedious and insignificant suddenly became glorious!
Prayerfully consider Paul’s words, recorded in 2 Timothy 4:5: But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (NLT).
In other words, focus on the task at hand, whatever that task may be.
- Be fully present. It’s easy to get so distracted by tomorrow—what we long to do or have God do through us—that we lose sight on today. Similarly, it’s easy to stay focused on the past, what God once did through us. But God wants us to focus on serving Him today, in whatever capacity it is, trusting that He has a purpose in every moment, every situation.
- Do your best, whether you’re packing school lunches or speaking to a crowd of 10,000.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).
Each day, in each moment, offer your whole self—your time, your hands, your feet, your thoughts—as a living sacrifice, and let God and God alone define your value.
- Evaluate your priorities and remember the parable of the ninety-nine sheep.
When asked, most of us would readily admit the importance of relationships. And oh, how we love the parable of the shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep in search of one—when it applies to God’s love for us. But what about when God wants to use us to seek out the one? Do we truly see value in those quiet moments of sipping coffee with a friend, or are we longing to be with the 99—in a sanctuary filled with countless attentive listeners?
Both have value. God ministers to the one, and He also ministers to the ninety-nine. In each moment and task, He assigns us to be His vessels. None of His vessels are placed on shelves.
What about you? Are you feeling like you’ve wandered into Dr. Seuss’ “The Waiting Place?” Look around. I imagine God’s got someone sitting there, right beside you, desperately in need of his love. Remember, don’t become so consumed with yesterday or tomorrow that you miss out on what God wants to do today.