Waiting on God While in Service for Him
First Week of Lent 2016
If we are honest, we will admit that we are usually restless when we have nothing to do. We need noises and things happening all the time. We want to be kept busy and have something to do at any given moment of the day. Most of us have difficulty just being quiet and still, waiting before the Lord. Why is it so hard to wait?
Oftentimes it can be because our motive in our service for God is wrong. Why Restless?
In the past, there had been a couple of families I heard of who left the service God had called them to. The reason being because they were dissatisfied, feeling as though they were not doing what they considered “real” service for God.
In one particular situation I remember a wife who said, “I came here to serve the Lord, and I have no ministry.” This family had two children to take care of, but for her, raising those children in the fear of the Lord, serving her family and being an intercessor for the lost world was not real ministry. She wanted to do something that appeared more significant.
Please understand. It is good to long to serve God in the best way we can. But discontentment, discouragement, frustration and grumbling just because we don’t like what the Lord gave us to do is not good. We must be able to discern between truly desiring to please the Lord and our own restlessness and self-seeking. We must be able to discern what is motivating us in the work of the Lord.
A lot of times we can be pulled in many different directions by the needs around us. And we can like it too. Serving the Lord in his Church certainly has its satisfaction for the flesh. There is the crowd of people, the results, the praise, the attention the limelight and the sense of accomplishment and self-worth that come in serving. But what we are called to in serving Him must be rooted in pleasing Him and done out of our love for Him— not our own gratification and glory. It must be for His.
Two Kinds of Servants
In Ezekiel 44, we find two groups of servants of God. One group were the Levites who spent their days busy, busy, busy in the outer court of the temple serving the people who came to worship the Lord.
These men were responsible for preparing the sacrifices and getting them ready for offering. Twenty-four hours a day, they were busy in the outer court, where it was full of people and noises. Many people saw the work the Levites were doing; it was a very visible thing. They were dragging the animals in, sacrificing them and putting them on the altar. These men were in great demand by the multitudes, pulled in all different directions, motivated by the screaming needs around them and all that needed to be done.
But there was also another group— the sons of Zadoc. These were men of the inner court. Where they stood, there was stillness. Unlike the outer court, the inner court was silent. Deadly quiet. The only individual there was God. There was no busyness, no service in front of people, no demand but to come into the holy of holies and minister unto the Lord.
Let me ask you— which group are you in? Are you like one of the sons of Zadoc, more concerned with coming into the holy of holies and ministering to the Lord than being busy serving the people? Or do you just keep going, going, going, like the energizer bunny, moved in every direction with the busyness of your service? These are serious questions we must ask ourselves.
This reminds me of the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10: 38– 42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me.” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part,”
It is clear in this passage, although our flesh would much rather be in the center of attention, that the better thing is to be more concerned with sitting at the Lord’s feet listening, rather than busy with all the ways we are trying to serve God. It wasn’t that Martha’s service was wrong. Not at all. What was wrong was that “Martha was distracted” from her first love by all of it. Jesus said Mary “hath chosen the best part”— to leave the busy place of the outer courts and come into the inner court and minister to Him.
Purify Our Hearts
But the truth is, we all have the same problem— wicked hearts. We’d rather be one of the priests who are busy standing before the people, active in what is immediately needed. We want our service to God to look dramatic and effective. Our flesh wants to glory in the praise of men. Just think about it. If asked to do a job that is below our educational qualifications or beneath our dignity, how glad are we? How eager are we to continue if the results are not what we would like? As humans, we often measure godliness and spirituality by external activities or a certain type of behavior that we see in people.
The Pharisees were considered extremely spiritual people by the way they fasted and prayed and put on a humble demeanor. Yet we know how Jesus spoke of them, identifying them for what they truly were and pronouncing the worst judgment upon them (see Matthew 23:13). Despite how spiritual they looked, they did not know the Father. And without that, all their religious activity meant nothing. The motivation behind all their action was full of self, not love for God. The motive is what makes your service spiritual or unspiritual.
We shouldn’t worry about how things look, what people might be saying, or whether or not there are the results we thought there would be. Our number-one concern must be to know Him and His ways and to follow His lead.
When we live like this, what happens, whether good or bad in man’s sight, whether productive or useless in man’s opinion has no bearing. We are not working for human beings. We are doing it because of our love for Him. It is service unto Him, and this pleases Him.
May we be reminded of the words of Paul, who facing incredible responsibilities, great need and overwhelming difficulties still said, “But I fear none of these things ” (Acts 20: 24). The difficulties and problems, all the blessings and praise, the good and the bad that happened, none of these things changed his course. Issues of personal life or loss did not sway him. All he wanted to do what the Lord gave him to do. Nothing else and nobody else motivated him.
Please, we need to evaluate what our motive has been in serving the Lord. Are we seeking to meet the need around us, or are we seeking to know and please Him? Are we controlled, motivated and energized by our talents and by opportunities that present themselves? Do needs and others’ voices guide our course? Or do we really know, in our innermost being, that we are serving our King? Ask yourself these questions.
Whatever we are doing, whoever we are serving, we must be able to do it all with the heart attitude that we are doing this for no one but our God.
(Taken and adapted from a book by K.P. Yohannan. While much of what he writes is very good and Catholic I nor the Holy Father could recommend everything he writes.)