Who said my first term without children at home would be easy? Who was going to take everyone's advice and not start lots of new ministries this year? Who pictured long days at home, sipping a cuppa, reading a book or ten, getting the house ordered and glowing for the first time in its eleven years of being lived in by our family, and catching up with friends? Could that possibly have been - wait a minute - me???
It seems God had other ideas. It's the end of term one, and I find myself:
- leading a Bible study at the university campus nearby
- mentoring and praying with two younger women from church
- meeting with a friend to read a gospel together.
Put like that, it doesn't sound like much. Factor in husband and children and home and parents and church and friends and prayer and writing; plus the difficulties of adjusting to a new life phase and working out how to make it all work; plus some nervous fears - going back to university to do ministry when you're 43 is more challenging than I anticipated, especially when I wasn't anticipating it at all! - and at times it's felt overwhelming.
Yet I'm so very grateful to God for these opportunities. I love this! I love working alongside my husband in university ministry. I love the chance to mentor younger women. I love the fact that my husband and I will soon be leading the first Bible study we've ever led together. Much of this wouldn't have been possible in my previous season of life, and I'm revelling in the chance to do some of these things again.
Do we expect the Christian life to be easy? Or do we expect to be busy in the service of God and others? Sometimes it's time for rest. Sometimes it's time for busy service. Mostly it's time for busy service (Phil 2:17; 2 Thess 3:8-9; 1 Tim 5:9-14; Titus 2:3-5). Not over-busy, nervous, not-trusting, ambitious, being-eaten-up-by-people service (the kind I'm good at). But free, loving, wise, grace-inspired, poured-out-for-people service (the kind I'm learning).
As I turn my thoughts to Easter, these words echo in my mind:
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)Praise God for our suffering and glorified Saviour, who paved the way for us to die with him during this life, then live with him forever. My life belongs to him.
image is from habeebee on flickr