Saturday a friend invited my husband and me to serve in an area of Memphis we don’t normally encounter. It was going to be an all day thing where we would connect with prostitutes, former prostitutes, and the poor, trying to show them love, grace, and acceptance.
But we didn’t go.
Elian had a men’s breakfast at church he was supposed to go to. When he got home, we were going to put our Christmas decorations up. And that night our Sunday School class had a Christmas party we had planned to attend.
So, naturally, we didn’t have time to serve. We were booked. OUR agenda was set. And, frankly, we weren’t interested in rearranging things to go serve. We weren’t motivated to find childcare for our girls so we could go be the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world.
I decided early in the week we wouldn’t “be able” to serve on Saturday and let my friend know.
Fast forward to Friday morning.
I was sitting in the doctor’s office, and my phone rang.
My friend on the other end had some exciting news. “I know this is last minute,” he said, “but 3 tickets to the SEC Championship game just came across my desk.”
My brain stopped working.
“It’s in Atlanta at 4pm tomorrow. If you and Elian want to go, the tickets are yours.”
In case you don’t follow sports, this game was a huge deal. LSU – the #1 team in the country – was playing Georgia. In case you don’t follow me, I am a Georgia fan.
When the blood returned to my brain, I told my friend, “YES WE ARE INTERESTED! We can make this work! I’ll get the grandparents to keep the kids, we’ll leave early Saturday morning, we’ll pick you up on the way, and we’ll get to Atlanta just in time for kickoff.”
My wheels spun. Creative solutions abounded as I figured out how to get everything in order for a 24 hour road trip to Atlanta.
So Saturday morning we got up bright and early and began driving. About an hour into it, Elian said, “I’m feeling really convicted right now.”
“‘Bout what?” I said, cluelessly.
“We just bent over backward to find a way to get to this game this weekend, but we couldn’t be bothered to make arrangements in order to serve in Memphis today.”
My happy bubble burst. He was right. We sucked.
All of my excuses for not “being able” to serve were exposed for what they really were – lies.
I was able to serve. I was breathing, walking, and had the same childcare options I had for the game. I chose not to serve. And I choose not to serve often.
I shouldn’t be surprised, really. God has been whispering to me about my lack of service outside of the church walls a lot lately. But His whisper hasn’t motivated me to respond. Sure, I’ve kept my eyes open a little wider for opportunities to serve, but none that have come along have fit into my perfect box. They weren’t at the right time of day or in the right part of town or for the right length of time or with the right group of people.
But Saturday’s display of self-centeredness was God’s way of speaking a little louder on the subject. The truth is, even if I had already committed to serving on Saturday, the second those tickets were made available to me, I would’ve sacrificed the service opportunity in order to make the trip to Atlanta. In a heartbeat.
Which just highlights how my heartbeat is not for the things of the Lord.
God cares more about loving people than He does about football. And I should too.
God cares more about serving others than He does about decorating Christmas trees or having Christmas parties. And I should too.
God cares more about taking the Gospel to the ends of the Earth than He does about keeping it inside our churches. And I should too.
How will my priorities change? How will yours?