My husband and I like to volunteer. We like people, we like to be around people, and we like to be around people while accomplishing some service or task. I’ve always enjoyed a behind-the-scenes perspective on events, whether it be warming up in the wings before a ballet production, hitting the streets during a campaign, or working as an advocate for women at a Pregnancy Center. I always hated that feeling of being “left out”, and loved the idea of making friends and connections through the giving of my time and resources.
I definitely married the right guy to partner with in making connections. We both have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to stepping out, but thankfully they complement each other. I am an idea person and can help Ashton take the initiative, and he helps me to be bold where I tend to people-please or try to back down for fear of messing up.
In our six months of marriage so far, we’ve definitely taken it pretty easy (the valid excuse: we’re newlyweds…). But we don’t like to sit still for too long, so we attended local Right to Life Board meetings, attended a local missions banquet, sang in a choir for a pro-life event, and called a few English Country dances. Oh, and we voted (one vote at a time, people!).
The pro-life event where we sang in the choir was held at a beautiful Church. The building had previously been a theater, with a large balcony, a sizable stage with wings, and enough cozy seats for 1,200 people. The event featured a speaker brought in from out-of-State, local Right to Life members, and a Church choir. The purpose was to raise awareness, funds, and prayer towards the cause of saving babies in Peoria.
The beautiful theater-style Church felt a bit empty as we sang out to around 100 people sitting in the closer rows, the balcony dark and vacant. A good portion of the attendees were nuns and Catholics, some of them representatives of the Right to Life organization, and the rest mostly members of one Church… which is not even located in Peoria. The professing believers of Peoria made a sad statement in their absence: “too busy… other priorities”.
Flash forward 2 months to when Ashton and I found ourselves back at the same location, only this time the event was for a Tim Hawkins concert. We arrived 10 minutes before the doors opened to find a line stretching to the end of the block, despite the cold wind and low temperatures. As doors opened we wound through the crowd to squeeze into our seats as the room filled with the buzz of the crowd. The event was sold out that evening, and that was the second concert that day. Around 2,000 people excitedly arriving to fill their seats for a time of laughter.
Don’t get me wrong, laughter is great, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves. Tim Hawkins is using his talents to bless people and honor the Lord, which I very much appreciate. However, it was a sad contrast and may have given a glimpse as to where the Christians of Peoria have placed their priorities.
Of course as humans we like things that are funny, that make us laugh and feel good about ourselves. It was easy for those 2,400 people to put down their money to attend a fun-filled event. It was much harder for them to give up two hours of their time to hear real stories of lives being torn apart, and other lives being saved… which is why they simply didn’t.
I may be ranting about the situation in my current city, and I may have hopes to help connect and inspire Christians- as the Lord enables us to- in this same city to get involved. However, this is not a Peoria problem. It’s a Christian problem worldwide. We love our time, and for many of us there seems to be too little of it. As school, extra-curricular and fun family activities squeeze into the cracks of our daily schedules, the tear-jerking, nitty gritty ministry opportunities get squeezed out. “Too busy… other priorities.”
How do we balance the fun of life, the laughter, the times of refreshment and joy with the messy, the painful, the hard hands-and-knees ministry to a fallen world? Life is full of balances; priorities, time, energy, relationships, ministry, resources. But if we must err on one side, may we err on the side of pouring ourselves out for others, and, in essence, for Christ. I know my husband and I will continue to struggle with the question of how to spend our time, especially as our family grows in the future. But when in doubt, we have only to flip to Matthew 25 for a priority check…
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
May the Lord give the ever-erring children of our generation the grace, the wisdom, and the conviction to be His hands and feet in a fallen world.