It's a question I've asked myself many times. Sometimes the answer isn't exactly what I want to hear.

My 88-year-old mother lives with us, and I am her primary caretaker. At times that's not an easy job, particularly when balancing it with a fulltime writing/editing career and all the other responsibilities that go with life in general. To be truthful, at times it's so difficult and stressful that I want to run out the door and not look back. But it all came into perspective one day when I least expected it.

I had been praying for direction in my own life and ministry when I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, "Somebody has to set up the chairs." I knew the Lord was stressing the need to serve others in ministry, so I readily agreed.

Then, a few weeks later, I was running at breakneck speed, trying to accomplish far too many things in far too little time, when I realized there was yet another detail I needed to attend to for my mom. That's when I caught myself grumbling—and I didn't like the sound of it at all.

"Forgive me, Lord," I whispered.

Somebody has to set up the chairs, came the answer.

Stunned, I realized God wanted me to understand that my day-by-day—sometimes moment-by-moment—decisions to serve others weren't restricted to serving those in fulltime ministry, but also those with whom I interacted all the time. I realized too that the selfless choices required for that sort of service can be much more difficult than what I had considered the "big sacrifices."

It's a lesson I try to keep at the center of my thoughts each day, and particularly now that Valentine's Day, the so-called holiday of love, is upon us. If we really want to model Christ-like love, the greatest love that submits its own desires to God and gives itself away for the sake of others, then we would do well to remember that someone has to set up the chairs—and then do it without grumbling.

Why not start with someone close to you? Instead of (or in addition to) giving a box of chocolates or a bouquet of roses, ask God to show you a way to "lay down your life" as an act of selfless love toward that person—not just on Valentine's Day, but throughout the year.

February 7, 2010

Kathi Macias is an award-winning author of more than thirty books, including No Greater Love and More than Conquerors, coming in April 2010.