Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sometimes You Serve; Sometimes You Just Sit

Sometimes you serve God; other times you just sit.

It would seem that the "sitting" part is easy; after all, we all need a little break from the tedium of serving sometimes. Even the work of the Lord can become monotonous and draining at times. This applies to both pastors and evangelists; neither office is a prelude to glamor or a life of ease.

Someone once wrote a song that states "Serving God is beautiful" and it's true that being a servant of God is a wonderful privilege. But let's face it: sometimes serving becomes less than glamorous, and we long for a respite. We're human, and as humans, there's a part of us that is still self-serving, that still wants to do our own thing. Sometimes, we just want a break!

So why is sitting so difficult?

In Luke 10:38-42, we read where Martha served while Mary sat. And Jesus, when pressed by Martha to send Mary into the kitchen to help, replied that "one thing is needful..." indicating that sitting is more important than serving.

So why is sitting so difficult?

I believe it's because we are people of action, and inactivity makes us nervous. There are those who have mastered the art of waiting patiently. (Indeed, some have taken it to extreme levels of "do-nothing" disguised as "waiting on God".) Yet for some, sitting can be more distressing than the drain of servitude.

I have found myself in a time of "sitting" more times than I would like. I'm in such a season even now, and the frustration of doing what appears to be nothing has been difficult to deal with. I am a person of action. If I were a football player, I'd play offense; defensive strategies---just try and keep the other guy from scoring---aren't my style. I want to be a part of what's happening! And now, to think that I am merely letting the world go by, watching the Church experience the greatest time of apostolic revival and growth without being a part of it, is almost maddening.

Isaiah tells us, in the oft-quoted verse, that "...they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength..." The secret, however, is not merely in the waiting. I believe the whole purpose of these times of sitting, instead of serving, is found in the previously mentioned story of Mary & Martha:

Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. (KJV)

The Message words it like this: [Martha] had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said.
Mary was not seated at Jesus' feet simply because she didn't want to help Martha; she was not attempting to escape the call of the kitchen by finding a place in the circle gathered around the Master. Instead, she was captivated by His voice, listening to what He taught His disciples and those around Him.

Perhaps in this time of "waiting on the Lord", this period of sitting, I should listen to what He's saying. Instead of chafing at my own inactivity, I should use this opportunity as a chance to hear His voice.

There are times that we voluntarily disengage from the burden of ministry, and those times are needed. (Jesus Himself taught the value of withdrawing from the multitudes for a season of personal refreshing and reviving.) There are other times when God, for reasons known only to Him, may call us from servitude into sitting.

I don't believe, however, that God ever calls us to sit as a form of punishment, a spiritual "time-out", if you please.

Rather, it is in these times that the greatest opportunity for personal growth and maturity in the Spirit can occur, because it is during these seasons of sitting that, if we allow ourselves, we can find a place at His feet, and hear what He's trying to teach us.

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