When Service Looks Like Sippy Cups and Sticky Floors

When Service Looks Like Sippy Cups and Sticky Floors 

“I am ready to be offered.” It is a transaction of the will, not of sentiment….Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be.” – Oswald Chambers

Picking up dirty socks wasn’t exactly my idea of serving God. When I imagined being poured out for the sake of the gospel, it didn’t include sticky floors. Their plastic cups are always on the counter. Ready to be filled.  Everyday. They come, asking me to fill them. So I do. I pour the milk, juice, and water. Again. And again.

Did I imagine my spiritual service to the Lord of Hosts would include a house full of kids, a husband with 12 hour shifts, and a sinus cold? Even with the high temperatures, I would drink my coffee and take some medicine to help, but inside I feel so…..empty. Out of energy. Strength. Patience. Joy. I prayed for the LORD to fill me up, but I missed how to let Him fill me up. I missed how serving Him would actually help the hollow feelings deep inside my heart. 

 It is a scary thing to be empty. It is exhausting to wake up tired. When I wake up with their footsteps and voices echoing in the hallway, I just want to pull the covers over my head. It is a little frightening to feel the void and know in my heart I could never fill myself. I don’t have enough to give them all they need. It is scary to be hollow and discover the empty spaces in my heart.

To the world and in the eyes of so many Christians “empty” seems wrong. Abandoned. Horrible.  Last week I scrolled through social media. It all seemed to say: “Look at me. I’m full. I am loved, wanted, and needed.  Look at the service I’m doing! I’m filled.” Then there was me. While others were offering medicines, giving away free glasses, and witnessing to unsaved people I was at home. 

For a week we had over sixty people visit Honduras to help conduct a medical, surgical, and optical clinic for the poor in our city. Everyone else was driving buses, making food, taking blood pressures, passing out glasses, and sharing the gospel. All the while I stayed at home, taking care of my children. Was this service for God? I knew this was the calling God had asked me to do, but discontentment with this type of service took root in my heart. 

How do we find contentment in the service God has called us to do? 

The answer is in Paul’s life and words in Philippians 2:17, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” And in the book to Timothy, Paul says: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Tim. 4:6-8 

Poured out. Emptied. We don’t get to decide how we are emptied for Christ. We only offer our lives, as best we can, to the God who works in and through us. 

Paul looked into his life and emptied it all. On purpose. His cup was never full. The “self-care” movement among women (especially Christian women) have it wrong. We aren’t supposed to be filled. We are supposed to be empty! Paul wasn’t just empty – but deliberate about becoming empty. Paul chose the life of sacrifice. Offering his life, his relationships, his work, and calling on the altar to God. For what? Why did Paul empty himself? Why did Paul give himself over again and again? To people. To ministry. To the Gospel.

Then I read the last words written about Paul ever. It says, “Then he stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.” Acts 28:30-31. Paul saw the beauty in becoming an offering.

If our life is to be emptied, it can still feel complete when we serve those around us. Only two things will last forever: people and the Word of God.  In our ordinary days, we have eternity to think about. Will we use every ounce of reserve to be poured out again and again for the proclamation of the gospel? Even in our own homes – we can see eternity. We can be poured out on purpose for those God has placed in our lives today.

Every time I pour the milk and snap the lid back on. The little hands reaching for me mean I am being emptied, and in the sacrifice of service, I find Him right beside me, filling me again. And again. There is nothing wasted in the kingdom of God – so our service for God will not be wasted, even when it looks like sippy cups and sticky floors.

“Holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:16

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