“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
Several weeks ago, Carol and I signed up for Church Community Service Day. Or rather, Carol asked me if I wanted to sign up with her. She was not being manipulative. She just wanted to know if I wanted to go.
Well, of course I didn’t. But guilt and shame overwhelmed me, and I agreed to do it. In his sermon, Mark shared the bullseye of Christian action. There are primary and secondary missions. Well, yard work is well below secondary for me. Is there a word for “third-ary”? (Ed. note: it’s “tertiary.”) How about “sixteenth-ary”? (Ed. note: ummmm… maybe?)
Nonetheless, Christian guilt took over and it was inserted into the calendar. AND, my name was on list of volunteers that Mark now had in his possession. There was no graceful way of backing out.
The week prior to the work day (a Saturday), I received a lot of consultant work that was due the following Monday. I worked diligently at it, but there were some unforeseen hiccups, and I realized that I would have to work the weekend to get it done. Eureka! A legitimate excuse to back out. I updated Carol on the magnitude of my workload, and told her that I wouldn’t be able to participate in the work day.
As soon as the words left my mouth, they seemed like an excuse—as bad as the excuses we find in Luke 14:18-19. Carol didn’t say anything at first (which is worse). Then she said that not very many had signed up. More Christian guilt. What to do? One part of me said, “You have a legitimate excuse. You don’t like it anyway. Go ahead. You’re going to be working all weekend anyway.” All true. Then another part of me said, “You committed to do this. It is just for the morning. Who knows what will happen? If you have to work all afternoon and night, and all day Sunday, so be it. It will be worth being part of this.”
Well, the Christian guilt part of me won out. So, we loaded yard tools, blowers and weed eaters and met everyone at church. The morning went well. We all worked hard, and I enjoyed the work. Going home, I cleaned up and went directly to work. Mentally I was prepared to work from 1:00 to 11:00 that Saturday, and all day Sunday (except for church, of course). Instead, I finished by 5:30 that same afternoon!
There has to be a sermon illustration in this. Did I enjoy doing something for God and my brothers that I didn’t think I would? Yes. Was I aware of it beforehand? No. Was I glad I went? Yes. Would I eagerly volunteer for another work day in the future? No. Not eagerly. But I would probably do it and end up enjoying it.
And what about the work after coming home. How did I get done so fast? I would like to say that I got down on my knees and asked Jesus for His help and guidance. But I didn’t. I was proud and independent. But He was there for me anyway. That makes me think of Matthew 6:27-34.
Maybe that is the sermon illustration: that He is always there for us, whether we ask Him or not. So what did I learn from all this? I learned that I need constant reminders of how much He helps me and brings joy to my life, whether I ask for it or not.