If you give a mom a free day, she’ll drop her kids off at school and come home to enjoy a cup of coffee. While she’s drinking the coffee, she’ll start to unload the dishwasher. As she’s putting away the glasses, she’ll remember that the dog needs food and water. She’ll fill his dish. While she’s outside, she’ll realize it’s a beautiful day. She’ll take the dog for a walk. When she comes home, she’ll take a long shower. As she’s getting dressed, she’ll discover she has no clean socks and get a load ready to throw in the washing machine. She’ll take out the clothes that have been in the dryer for three days and start to fold them. Halfway through, she’ll hear her phone ding. She’ll need to catch up on texts and emails. Then she’ll move to Facebook. A comment on Facebook will remind her of her favorite movie so she’ll decide to watch it. When the movie is over, her stomach will remind her that she hasn’t eaten yet. She’ll go to the kitchen to make a sandwich only to realize there are no clean plates in the cupboard. She’ll remember she still hasn’t unloaded the dishwasher. Instead she’ll take a swallow of her now-cold coffee as she glances at the clock to realize it’s time to pick up her kids from school. And chances are, when she gets the kids from school, she’s going to wish for another free day.
There are a lot of days when my life resembles that of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Maybe it’s just me, but many times when the kids are in school and I have the whole day free (with the company of my two-year-old, naturally), I get nothing accomplished. I sort of drift aimlessly from one thing to another, leaving tasks half-finished. Then the end of the day comes and I look around and wonder why my house is still a disaster even though I’ve had the entire day. The problem is that I’m not intentional. I find that when I make a list or set a specific goal, like steam mopping the entire house, I can be much more efficient with my time. It just takes a little planning.
But do you ever fear that you’re doing the same thing on a much larger scale? Sure, it’s okay to waste a day here and there, but do you ever find yourself wondering if you’re living up to your potential in life? I have a Facebook friend who is 26 years old and is working at an orphanage in Africa for AIDS orphans, teaching them about Jesus. This man is making a difference, and at a fairly young age. But me? What am I doing?
It must be noted that if you’re raising children (or have raised them), you are doing the most important work of all––raising them in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. There is no greater task on this earth than raising up the next generation of Christians. You are making an eternal difference. And let’s be honest––we can’t all work with orphans in Africa, nor does God call us to do so. We are all placed in unique situations to be lights for Christ to those around us in this dark world. But sometimes we need a little encouragement to shine a bit more brightly.
If you find yourself restless or wondering what your purpose is, it’s time to talk to the Lord. Ask Him to reveal to you areas where you can serve Him and others, according to the talents and strengths He’s given you. Make a bucket list of service activities or charities to support or relationships to build. Call up the homeless shelter in town and ask how you can volunteer. Set aside a jar in the kitchen to collect loose change to support a missionary. Invite your unchurched neighbor to church or Bible class. Call or visit your aunt in a nursing home. Write letters to your congressmen and women to lobby for the pro-life movement. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister. Consider foster parenting or even adopting. Actively seek ways to serve and make a difference.
Remember, we do not serve because we have to. Serving others is not required of us to gain heaven. Rather, good works belongs in the area of sanctification––Christian living. We serve others joyfully, under complete freedom from the Law. As Galatians 5:13 reminds us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (emphasis mine).
So go on. Live intentionally. Watch the Lord work through you in ways you may never have dreamed. Start today, while the ideas are still fresh in your mind. I’ll do the same. As soon as I finish unloading my dishwasher.