For many years, I called myself a Reluctant Disciple. It’s not that I don’t love the Lord. It’s certainly not because I haven’t seen His faithfulness in my life. My walk with God has been characterized by a lot of foot-dragging. In some cases, I’ve been pulled, kicking and screaming, into His service. Just look behind me and see the skid marks from my heels.
I’m speaking as one who accepted Jesus into my heart at age fourteen. But that’s after wrestling with Him for two years. I heard missionaries talk about God sending them into harsh conditions, where they endured hardships for Him. I was scared of what this God might ask me to do if I turned my life over to Him. I knew I couldn’t say, “Thy will be done.”
Then, I finally came to realize how much He loves me, and His will is only for our good. Surrendering to Jesus was just the start. A few years later, He called me into full-time Christian service.
I jumped through educational and credentialing hoops to work in church educational ministry and faith-based organizations. My later years of employment were in both Christian and secular counseling settings, after more hoops. However, I continued to do a lot of overthinking and procrastinating in my spiritual journey. My service to the Lord was more out of duty or obligation than joy and gratitude.
Several years ago, the congregation I was attending was serving our community’s homeless population, inviting them to spend the day with us at our church. This Reluctant Disciple said “no” to everything except a small assignment, where I stayed within my comfort zone.
Then, I heard a podcast speaker present a challenge to serve the poor in ways that cause us to step out of our usual patterns. I prayed about this and immediately felt a prompt to make Blessing Bags for the homeless. I could do that. But, I wrestled with personally handing these care packages to individuals on the street. Like the reluctant son in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 21, I finally obeyed after first saying, “no” to the Father.
I distributed several bags with little fanfare. The next day, I saw a small, older lady, alone on a bench outside an abandoned department store. As I approached her with the clear, zippered bag, I sensed her fear of me – this stranger coming toward her. I held out the plastic bag as I said, “Here are some things you might need. I give them to you in Jesus’ name.” She took it, never taking her eyes off of me, never saying a word.
I walked away, then looked back as she raised her bony finger, pointing to the sky. She shouted at me, “Who wouldn’t serve a God like this?”
I waved and smiled before slipping into the seat. But as I drove away, her words cut deep into my heart. They stunned me. I felt they were straight from the God who is so patient with my stubborn, rebellious will. “Who wouldn’t serve a God like this, who loves us and meets all our needs? A God who is good and leads us in His perfect will.”
She couldn’t have known my history or my heart. But to this Hesitant Servant, those words could only have come through her by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, He speaks to us through the most unlikely, unexpected sources.
Indeed. Who wouldn’t serve a God like this?
After all, the second verse of Psalm 100 says, “Serve the Lord with gladness!” And I’ve found as the old song says, “the longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.”