When Serving God Doesn’t Look Like I Imagined

When Serving God Doesn't Look Like I Imagined

Do you believe God has the power to answer your desire to serve Him?

A couple summers ago, Christopher and I stayed at one of those pay-by-the-week sketchy hotels. We were taking a class to learn about Islam and reaching out to Muslims, both in America and overseas. We spent each day listening to lectures and discussing what loving Muslims would look like. Part of our “homework” in the evenings was to meet Muslims (who made up a large population of the city in Michigan) and look for opportunities to engage in spiritual conversations.

That sounded like a good idea in theory, but my body had other plans. Being close to the 6 month mark in my pregnancy, I felt more and more back pain and fatigue. We were supposed to write down our hours spent “reaching out,” and I despaired. Christopher would go out with his guy classmates after supper, and I’d spend most evenings alone in the hotel room.

A few days into our training, we asked to change to a room with a bed that felt less like a hammock. The cleaning lady who helped us move was a talkative young woman from Jordan who was taking college classes in the city. The following Saturday we didn’t have lectures, so we were in the room when she came by to clean. The next twenty minutes were filled with a discussion about heaven, Jesus, and the love of God, while she changed sheets, piled towels, and wiped down counters. Christopher pointed her to some passages in an Arabic Bible, and she kept reading well past the place he’d pointed to, her melodious Arabic interrupted by her exclamations of surprise. Even though I hadn’t gone out of the hotel room, God brought an opportunity literally knocking on my door.

When I graduated from college, I had a picture in my mind of what it would look like to impact the world for Jesus. For some reason, comforting a baby struggling to take a nap or keeping the house clean hadn’t made it into that picture.

Over the next months, as we sensed God’s redirection from moving overseas to reaching out to others State-side, I again struggled with the desire to follow God’s command to make disciples. How was I supposed to do that when caring for my family seemed to take so much time and my primary place was inside the four walls of our apartment? Was I letting God down? Would conjuring up “good things to do” ease my conscience?

My mentor Natalie patiently listened to this cascade of thoughts and quietly asked, “Do you think God has the power to answer your desire to serve in a way that’s pleasing to Him?”

I was speechless. Wasn’t it my job to come up with awesome ways to bring Him glory?

She helped me to step back and ask, “What exactly should my priority be in my spiritual life?”

I knew I wanted to serve God. So where was it all supposed to start?

It begins with drawing near to Him. Period.

If my focus is on how I can know, love, and experience our God in a deeper way, ministry and the rest of life can flow out of that.

It sounds simple, but many of my thoughts get stuck in old patterns. In those times of doubt and feeling like I’m not “doing enough,” a prayer I have adopted is, “Lord, today would you help me set aside feelings of condemnation (guilt over sin that Jesus has paid for) and instead listen for your conviction and leading?

Galatians 5:1 says, For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Let’s embrace our glorious Savior today and live in the freedom He died to give us!

10 thoughts on “When Serving God Doesn’t Look Like I Imagined

  1. I love this. Beautifully written and such truth. Thanks for sharing what God is teaching you and seeking to glorify Him in whatever circumstances he brings! Amazing how he takes seemingly mundane things and turns them into opportunities if we only have eyes to see.

    1. Amen, Jessie! One of my friends encouraged me a while back to see “interruptions” as ways the Spirit is working. So hard to remember, but we do serve an amazing and gracious God.

  2. Love this. Natalie hit the nail on the head. I struggle SO much with the lie that I’m not doing enough, even being overseas! But no matter where we are or what our vocation is, we are supposed to do all to His glory and be obedient to Him. Thanks for sharing, Alicia!

    1. Thanks, Jessica, for sharing this. It’s easy for me to think people who serve overseas have got this all figured out. You are such an inspiration.

  3. Thanks, Alicia. This was very meaningful for me – I especially identify with the thought about feeling the need to conjure up good things to do to ease my conscience. Thanks for the reminder that if I draw near to Him, my ministry will flow out of that, and for the prayer that you shared.

    1. You are most welcome, Gail. Thanks for your encouragement. It’s neat to hear that others are in a similar place in the journey and to know I’m not alone.

  4. Once again you have really ministered to my heart. I just now thought, “Did Alicia know I really needed to hear this? You may not have, but God did. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for sharing that with me, Mandy. You are a blessing. And thanks for your booklet and brochure you sent us in the mail. It’s exciting to see what God is doing in your lives.

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