Saturday, August 18, 2007

Have You Been Called?

Kind of a strange thing happened to me in church last Sunday.
After the service this woman came up to me. She clearly was not happy. She said she recognized me from a Bible study she had visited once or twice, then asked me to call her that she needed someone to talk to. Then she started crying.

I'm instantly STRESSED. I have to be honest and say these "share with me" moments just don't happen to me. I've been told I just don't have a kind face (No seriously. I hear this ALLLL the time.) My students tell me I'm initially intimidating. (Come on, kids. I'm 5'1 on a good day. How scary is that?) I'm one of those people that has to warm up, you know? So strangers don't typically seek me out for help. And on top of that, I'm just not naturally good with deep, dark issues. Not that I haven't had my share. I have (thus, I like to remain in my happy places). I'm the girl you sit next to when you want to giggle in a wedding. I'm the girl you call when you want to see a Will Ferrell movie. Keep it light, is my motto. (Actually it's really not. Who are these people who genuinely have mottos?)

Anyway, as she's talking I'm thinking, "Why me? Not only do I not want to deal with this, I'm the least 'gifted' to help her."

So we swap numbers, and I promise her to call her within hours.
I go home. I pray.
I pray for God to speak through me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me. And I pray for her not to answer the phone so I can turn it over to someone who is qualified to help her.

Then I looked at my notes from that day's sermon. Here's the only thing I had written down:
It doesn't matter what you want to do.
It matters what you're called to do.

And I call.
Knowing at this point that God is up to something, it's no surprise that this woman answers the phone, and I have to follow through. Though I felt less equipped and able to help a distraught stranger and could have referred her to 25 more capable people, I proceeded to have an hour and a half long conversation with her.

To make a very, very sad and long story shorter, this woman has an unusually twisted background of neglect and abuse. And she was suicidal. Through my experience with students with depression and other disorders, I was able to counsel her to the best of my ability. But mostly this lady just needed someone to talk to. She knew I couldn't say magic words and it would all be fixed.

I have continued to talk to my new friend throughout the week. She has a long way to go, and needs help and services from professionals. But she also needs friends. And she needed a listening ear. She needed someone to offer the comfort of Christ. And like it or not, I was that person.

So where is God calling you? As a pastor's wife told me this week, "Jen, that IS ministry right there. That's what it's all about."
And she's right--even when it's not my gift.

God gives us specific gifts to use. But don't let that limit you to areas of help and ministry. I've hid behind the excuse, "Oh, I can't do________ because that's not my strength. Ask so-and-so. But if you want a skit or need some help with the children's church, call me!"

God all but slapped me down with a message this week. I'm not here to maintain my own comfort level. He wants me in the trenches, with sweaty palms and churning stomach, as I serve.

It doesn't matter what you want to do.
It matters what you're called to do.



Julie Garmon said...

Loved this, Jenny. My critique group has a nickname for me. DEEP. I always go deep for the heavy issues. I love hangin' out with light people. :-) (I guess like my husband--just now realized that!)

I bet your new friend loves the lightness about you plus sounds like you're a great listener.


crownring said...

1st Corinthians 1 26-31 (NIV)

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Whenever I read of someone reaching outside of their comfort zone to serve Lord Jesus, I am reminded of these verses. Often we don't feel we have anything to offer, but we can always offer love, kindness, and hope..... and the Lord Jesus Himself.

Thanks for that reminder, Julie. :)