The internet has been down in my room for several days now so I haven’t been able to catch up on several things that are starting to worry me. So I escaped to my office where thankfully the internet is fast and I can download some documents that I need to edit to meet a deadline. Somehow things are starting to pile up all at once and I am beginning to rethink my original strategy for service when I first came.
When I first arrived at MEU, I decided that I would willingly volunteer anytime somebody asked me to help out, whether it was playing piano for song service, tutoring a student in conversational English, or packing up someone’s house to move. I quickly filled my days and got to know different people through the opportunities for service.
Now that I’ve settled in to life here, though, I’m realizing that being available for any request may not necessarily be the best idea for long-term service. I read in My Utmost for His Highest today that if I am feeling spiritually exhausted, it may be because I need to reconnect to the One Who gives me the strength I need to be poured out in service. This means, naturally, that I need to set aside time in order to do so.
In the next two weeks or so, I have to prepare a succinct presentation for an international conference, edit 4 articles into video script, research and put together text for a promotional site, give 2-4 hours of reading and fluency tutoring per week, buy kitchen appliances as I’ll now be cooking for myself, and edit a friend’s masters’ thesis. This is in addition to the everyday duties I do, such as teach, work, do laundry, go grocery shopping, cook, clean my room, help babysit my best friend’s twin boys, write emails or chat with my family, and go on the occasional social outing.
Coming to the mission field, I assumed it would be easy to prioritize devotional time just as I had in 2005 when I spent a summer in South Korea teaching English. Then, I’d had very short nights as my last class ended at 9 pm and my first morning class began at 7 am. I made sure that I had at least 30 minutes for personal devotions every morning, in spite of a lack of sleep, because I valued that connection with God and I saw how very necessary it was to my survival in a foreign land away from all that was familiar for the first time.
Perhaps it’s because coming back has not been a mission field experience for me as much as it has been about coming home. Yes, I have made sure that I read my devotional book every morning and spent time writing in my prayer journal and reading my Bible before I went to bed. I’m not listing this as a matter of pride; I’m simply stating that devotions have been a part of my life since I arrived. But finding myself weary emotionally and spiritually is making me think that perhaps I need to shift my focus from service to servanthood.
Micah 6:8 ends by saying that what God asks is not sacrifices but to walk humbly with your God. What does it mean to walk humbly? Perhaps it’s not about meeting a quota of service opportunities but rather learning to step into sync with God. Learning to match my stride to His rather than those of others. Learning to serve not out of a need to feel important or valued but out of humility because He has chosen to give me this gift. While in everything, remembering that above all, the connection with my God is what will give me the strength to serve others and Him.
Maria Lombart is volunteering as an Enrollment and Strategic Partnerships Coordinator at Middle-East University in Lebanon. This was re-posted from her blog with permission.