And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Confession. I’m a rule-follower. If there were membership cards issued to those with this disposition, I’d have one.
For instance, I see lines painted in a parking lot and think, “That is where I am supposed to place my car. Between the lines.”
Another might prefer to angle his tires out of the lines, making use of the space beside him next to impossible. Thanks ever so much, pal.
If my leashed dog and I happen upon a posted sign that reads, NO DOGS ALLOWED IN PARK, I’d lower a pitiful glance down to my precious Dottie and inform her, “Sorry, pup. We’ll have to hunt for another place.”
Others might simply enter the park with Fido and take their chances.
In most organizations, ministry in particular, sign-up sheets are utilized, seeking volunteers to do such and such and this and that. In my way of thinking, then, if a set number of people are needed and all slots are filled, then I’m out.
Or am I?
Last Sunday, our church recognized its annual Service Sunday, the day when all are encouraged to participate in one of several ministries.
Among the options, my husband and I discussed helping at the local soup kitchen. Checking the on-line sign-up site, I discovered that 10 volunteers were needed, but all 10 slots were filled. A proverbial ‘good problem to have’.
Swinging a fist at my internal legalist, I thought, “They need 10 people. All slots are filled… their doors will be locked…we’ll be turned away….the rules say…”
But then I suggested to my husband that we do the unthinkable.
“How about we just show up. If they need us, great, if they don’t, fine.”
He agreed. He’s no legalist.
After parking (between the lines), we arrived at the soup kitchen, both of us donning closed-toed shoes as required by their safety guidelines. (Imagine my horror a few weeks back when my daughter and I arrived to volunteer on our scheduled morning but were kindly told they don’t allow flip flops. Not even fashionable ones with bling. Making an exception, they ushered us in, though I fought guilt each time I glanced down at my painted toes.)
Greeting the manager and fellow church members, my husband and I were welcomed, handed aprons (rules, you know), and directed to start peeling potatoes. Hundreds of them.
No one sneered or reluctantly set us to task because we’d not signed up. The staff didn’t care. They were overjoyed that we just showed up. Considering the volume of unpeeled potatoes and the hungry crowd that’d gathered for a meal, clearly they needed the help. Even from those whose names weren’t on the ‘list’.
“Here at the soup kitchen we never turn anyone away,” the manager boldly assured me with a shake of his head and a glint in his eye.
Not even if the rules say…
Sometimes God frees me to disregard the mental blockade of a sign-up sheet and just show up, keeping in mind I may or may not be needed. Because it’s about obedience to His leading anyway, not whether or not I’ve performed a task for Him. He’s not impressed. And needs nothing from me (although I like to believe He smiles a great deal when I park between the lines… and scowls at you when you don’t).
When’s the next time He might nudge me…and you… to just show up?