November 18, 2011

Available and Vulnerable
Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Editor

When we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. There is great freedom in this. . . . When we choose to be a servant, we surrender the right to decide who and when we will serve. We become available and vulnerable. —Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

When I first read the words “available and vulnerable” in the above quote, my mind immediately went to what a personal ad might say.  But in this case, it would be a “personal servant ad” in the fictitious Ministry Daily News . . .

AVAILABLE AND VULNERABLE . . .

SWF seeks 24/7 ministry opportunities. Creative, outgoing, loves serving the King of Kings. Leadership skills in abundance, but also comfortable as a team player in group settings. Local projects a plus, but will consider long-distance. No task too menial or small. Money, time and personal agenda not a problem. Ready to sacrifice and serve at a moment’s notice. Acclaim and reward not required. 

If only that were accurate, right? What seems to stand in the way of me living a life of true service and being “available and vulnerable” like this is me. I’m not unlike James and John who also struggled with what it means to serve Christ:

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory” (Mark 10:35-37).

They wanted the acclaim and the visibility. But what they didn’t get at this point is what is required in Christian service: sacrifice.

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared” (Mark 10:38-40).

Only Christ could bear the wrath of God’s judgment and die in our place on the cross. Only his blood could atone for our sins. As Christ followers, James and John shared in his sufferings (as do we all). But their places of honor would be determined by God. 

Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

Some of us might say, “Oh, but I love to serve!” and “I have a servant’s heart!” or “I serve whenever I can!” And perhaps we truly do. Or, perhaps we only serve when it feels right, when the popular people are asking us to or when it works out with our schedule or when it is for a cause that is “big” or involves traveling to an exciting destination. See how we can easily place these perimeters and try to control when and how and whom we serve? I do it, too. If I’m serving, then it’s going to be on my terms.

But that’s not true service . . .

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:14-17).

Washing someone’s feet. Think about it. That is truly making yourself available and vulnerable—especially if the condition of the feet are rank and unpleasant to behold. To me, foot washing represents the task that I don’t want to do. It’s the ministry opportunity for the person who drives me nuts. It’s the service project that cuts into my “more important” appointments. It’s the mission of mercy that will cause my finances to be stretched beyond my comfort zone or will require me to give up some of my belongings to someone else. By and large, it’s something that in my flesh I just don’t want to do.

True service is not a feeling, but an act of submission . . . a way of life that is patterned after Jesus Christ. Will you give of yourself and make yourself available and vulnerable today? Let’s learn to serve our Savior as he has served us.   

Intersecting Faith & Life:

If you are ready to serve like this—if you are ready to let go and quit gripping so tightly to your life—then ask God to present an opportunity to you right now. Ask him to open your ears, eyes and heart so that you will recognize and accept however he is calling you to be available and vulnerable.

Further Reading:

“Rise” by Robbie Seay Band
Slow down, be still
Let go, we will
Be here, be now
Slow down, be still
Breathe in, refill
Be here, be now
If you choose to love
To know that the call
Is to give all you are
To give love away, away
Rise, rise, people of love rise
People of love rise, give yourself away
Rise, rise, people of love rise
People of love rise, give yourself away
Give yourself away, give yourself away

Slow down, just breathe
Be still, believe
Be here, be now
Slow down and see
It’s all you need
Be loved and free

And to hear the call, is to give your love away
And to hear the call, is to give your love away
And to hear the call, is to give your life away
Is to give your life away

We’re not safe, we’re not safe
But we will rise