Make Me a Servant

by Sarah Langness

Alright.  I have a very anti-Christian-sounding confession to make. But don’t write me off or let this statement keep you from reading this in full:

Sometimes, I really don’t like praying.

Not the actual  act of praying, the whole talking to my Father, sharing my heart with Him stuff. I’m fine with that. But I don’t like praying for change . . . specifically, change in me. It’s like that whole concept of  “Don’t pray for patience, otherwise the Lord will give you more opportunities to practice patience.” I had one of those experiences this past week. Except I prayed for a servant heart. And man, was I ever tested.

It all started when I decided to start reading through the book of Mark. I began to notice how often Jesus mentioned servant hood and how often He Himself was a servant (1 Peter 2:21). And because He has left us an example to follow, I knew I needed to become a servant as well. That I needed to become less selfish as a mother and as a wife. That I needed to exemplify love as Paul describes it in that all-too familiar chapter that we don’t even really get anymore – 1 Corinthians 13. That I needed to put the needs of those in our church family and our community above my own. So my prayer became that of the old song:

Make me a servant, humble and meek.
Lord, let me lift up those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be, make me a servant.
Make me a servant . . . today.”

After only a few mornings of praying this prayer, the opportunities seemed to abound for me to be a servant. And they weren’t opportunities that came from a far-off place or would send me out of my comfort zone. They were in my own home.

They were opportunities with a toddler who suffered from a 102.2 fever and just wanted to cuddle for nearly two days. They were opportunities with that same toddler who, after the fever broke and he seemed to be himself, didn’t want to take naps in his crib and would only sleep while being held. They were opportunities with my husband, who can’t read my mind after only (almost) four years of marriage. They were opportunities to make a meal for a VBS team even when I felt like we had so much to get ready for our trip. They were opportunities to open our home to new friends even when I felt so tired at the end of the day.

Here’s my other confession: after a couple of days of constant opportunities to be a servant, I stopped praying that prayer. I was exhausted.

But ya know what? I should start praying that prayer again. Because Jesus was a servant even in death. I guess this time though, I’ll try not to be as surprised at the constant opportunities to serve.

“‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.'”  Mark 10:42-45, (NASB) (emphasis mine)

Serving by Grace

by Sarah Langness

Remember that lesson I was learning about servant hood and that servant heart? I’ve found myself in situations this week yet again where that has been tested. Where my desire to have a servant heart has been challenged. Where I’ve learned even more about how selfish I am and how much work my heart needs.

And you know what else I have learned this week about being a servant?

It’s not something I can do on my own. Not on my own strength. Not by my own will. Not by my own power.

Only through Christ can I serve when I am exhausted and crabby. Only through Christ can I love as He has called us to love. Only through Christ can I have the grace to respond as He would respond.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13, NASB (emphasis mine)

So not only have I been praying to be a servant; but I’ve been praying for the grace to be a servant. When those trying moments come, when I am crabby, when I am simply exhausted — I’ve started asking the Lord to give me grace. Grace to show to others so that I can be a servant.

Praise God we don’t have to do this stuff on our own!

Some 2013 Maybes

by Sarah Langness

The first few week of January is probably one of my least favorite times of year. Christmas is officially over. Stores have already clearanced all things Christmas to make room for Valentine’s decor; the radio stations no longer play music celebrating the Savior’s birth or anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus; and life has simply returned to normal. Relatives return home. Classes resume. Life goes on. And while returning to the routine of life is good, I miss the joy, the awe, the wonder, the fun that Christmas brings.

As I moped over the fact that Christmas has indeed come to a close this past week, I spent some solid time considering what exactly it is about Christmas that I love so much. Here’s what I came up with:

  • The music. I love the hymns we sing in church, going caroling, and playing Christmas music while I bake or sip some coffee. Sure there is great “non-Christmas” music; but you’ve got to admit with me that there is something great about Christmas albums, no?
  • Everyone seems happier. Sure, there’s still a Grinch or two or three out there, but there seems to be this joy that is contagious wherever I go. I like that.
  • People seem less selfish. Yeah, there’s a bounty of selfishness at Christmas time as we focus on ourselves, what we want to get. But for some, there’s a focus on “What can I give to show my family/friends how much I love them? how much I appreciate them?”
  • The beautiful lights, trees and other decorations. Christmas lights on a dark night reflecting off the snow? Absolutely beautiful. Christmas trees? They seem to hold a certain fascinating beauty too.
  • Seeing family. Although 500 plus miles separate us from Jordan and I’s families, we still had an opportunity to see them during the Christmas season. I am so blessed by each and every one of them.
  • Having our mailbox stocked full of Christmas cards and letters from loved ones rather than bills, ads, and junk mail. This is the one time of year that it seems we are remembered by more than Chase, MDU, and the City of Beulah.
After making this list, I decided that most of those things I can do — I should do — every month of the year. Sure, I might not want to listen to “Let it Snow” in July, but why not something like “O Come All Ye Faithful”? And although  Christmas lights and trees are indeed beautiful, there is other beauty around me that I consistently take for granted. Like the bright beauty of the moon on a clear night or the awe-striking colors in the sunrise.
And why, oh why, does it take a holiday for me to think about something to give my loved ones? Why do I spend days, even weeks, pondering what to give my husband for Christmas when I should be giving to him daily? Maybe not buying an expensive or elaborate gift for him each day – but shouldn’t I always be thinking of him before myself? How I can put his needs above my own. How I can serve him with love and respect. How I can support him best in his ministry. And why does that stop with family? How can I bless my neighbors? The clerks at the store? My church family?

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” –
Galatians 6:9-10

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. But I think this year I’ll try and keep the spirit of Christmas alive despite the coming of January. Maybe that means I’ll be listening to Kenny G in April. Maybe that means I’ll take time to soak up the beauty of the Lord’s creation when I would otherwise complain about the heat in August. Maybe it means your mailbox will be hearing from me more often throughout the year. Maybe I’ll begin to focus less on my self every day and more on those around me.

Who’s with me?

Praying for Your Pastor – Day 22

Pray that your pastor will practice servant leadership, edifying the congregation with
wisdom and serving with God’s “agape” love.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  Gal 5:13

With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.  Eph 6:7

But whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.  Mark 10:43-45

Then Jesus poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.  So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”  Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”  Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”  John 13:5-9

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Phil 2:3-4

Taken from Revive Our Hearts