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May 20, 2017, 12:00 AM

10 Things God has taught me thru being paralyzed - #9 Serving

As I realized, since the late 1980's, that the world didn't revolve around me and that I had a greater purpose on this earth, I considered what I could give back to make a difference. By the 90's I felt like I had very little to offer; little money, my talents were gone and I was either in a wheelchair or barely walking. What could I do? Who would listen to me or let me help them? How could I make a difference for God?

I found an answer in a book I read called Experiencing God. In it, one of the first points that he made to experience God was to find out where God was working and join him! That led me to the question, "Where is that and where do I start?" As I looked around, it didn't take long to understand the answer is all over the place! That is how I started serving. I didn't start a new program or try to reinvent the wheel... I just started showing up where I thought I saw God working.

For me, I just started showing up at our church youth events and asked the minister how I could help. I showed up early on Wednesday nights and asked the person making the church meal how I could help. I showed up at the community Christmas give away for underpriviledged people and asked how I could help. And so on.

Was it akward...yes, yes it was. Did I have any cooking talents? No I did not. Does a twenty something using a walker draw strange looks from youth? They were pretty cool with it (I had a good what happened story) but the adult leaders felt akward.

But I did find out there was plenty I could do.  Turns out there was a lot I could do. Maybe not the first day, or week. But I found ways to help, meaningful ways. I made mistakes. But they were small. It led me to believe there was nothing I couldn't do. Not because I was something special or talented; quite the opposite.

When I thought I was in the world helping to grow God, He was using the world to help grow me. In that process, He also used me to grow others and bring them to Him.

I discovered new talents, strengths and gifts that He had given me that I could devote to him. As I mature in Christ over the years, I am able to hear God working and where he wants me a little better.That is what enabled a partial quadriplegic to bicycle 180 miles through Oklahomah in 3 days for Focus on the Family. That is what enabled a sick man to lead mission trips both here and abroad over the years. That is what enabled a person with 3 working fingers to play bass in a church praise band. That is what enables me to spend time with a cranky neighbor offering encouragement. Some are small...some are big.

It enabled this me to serve...

As well as this me...

Both me's were handicapped me's during ups and downs since my accident. I served in different ways; not more or less, just different. Much of my serving has been quiet, behind the scenes work which is my comfort zone...I am self-conscious more than most. I have many days where I fail. But I have to adjust, assess and keep trying. It is part of my journey, Biblically...

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10

We all lead lives and raise families and suffer roadblocks that make us want to turn inward and worry about just our own needs, our own ideologies or our own issues. But no matter who you are and what your circumstances are, there is a place and a need for you to serve and make a difference. From a selfish standpoint, it makes your own life better. If your neighbor's lawn is mowed you like your street better. If your community and it's members are cared for and doing well, you pay less to the government...etc.

If you really want to change someone's ideology, don't blast them with those not so subtle posts on social media, go serve them and convert them.

Let them see why you have something they need. Many people need to come into contact with changed lives rather than social media condescension.

From God's standpoint, you spread the Gospel. Coming in contact with people serving lets people see God in you. Jesus himself said I do not come to be served, but to serve. He met needs. He can use me to meet needs. And He can use you..

For me, I even discovered that I can serve by teaching others to serve.....

By the way, until the end of May you can help me help others. A town in West Virginia which has become very close to my heart. Richwood, an isolated town in the mountains was devastated in June of 2016 by a 1000 year flood. Everyone lost everything. Rebuilding is slow-going because businesses and everything was lost. We are spending this last week in May working through a small church there to continue to serve as they recover. One of the things we desire to do is to supply them with enough funds to maintain a food pantry to help to feed the many people who struggle to this day. We have chosen "Give Send Go" as our crowdfunding site because they don't charge us anything to use them. Prayerfully consider serving with them by contributing towards that goal. I will be on mission there until the end of May. It is my way to serve at this point. What's yours? The link is below...

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