Whether running, swimming, or cycling, regardless of how fatigued I am, I’ll get this surge of energy toward the end of a long session. This good feeling tells me to keep pushing ahead. No matter how I feel before the rush of endorphins, I forget the muscles depleted of their reserves. I somehow find that I can keep pushing ahead and feel good while doing it.
I wish all of my life was like that. I’m the worst at finishing projects. Sometimes I lose interest. Other times I run out of steam and just don’t finish. But it’s not just projects where I lose that edge to push ahead. When I’ve had a hard day, mentally, physically, emotionally, or a combination of all three, I struggle to come up with the motivation and energy to serve – as if my tank is empty. There’s no more left to give.
I know you can relate! We all face times when our tank is empty and there’s not much left. All you know is that you’ve reached the end and are ready to tap out and run for the chocolate ice cream in the freezer.
Wait…maybe that last part is just me…Anyway…
What we do when we feel we’ve reached the bottom of the reserves and we still have a family, church family, coworkers, and strangers to serve, matters. The clarifying question, then, is how do we respond?
I wonder if Paul experienced this as he ebbed ever closer to the end of his ministry. While Acts 20 isn’t the end of Paul’s ministry, he is on the latter side of it. And Luke records Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian elders. Check out what he says to these elders in verse 35.
In everything, I showed you that by working hard in this way, you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35
Now, Paul most likely is referring to himself as being a tentmaker, supporting himself while relying on others and giving of himself in human and financial resources. But I’m curious if Paul also was referring to serving each other because in serving each other, it is giving of oneself.
Think with me for just a second. To authentically serve another, you give another something of yourself. In the context of the church, serving is giving time and energy to bless someone else. It’s a sacrifice of time to give and serve in worship services, teen ministries, or kids ministries. Something is given so that someone can receive. Receive what? A blessing! And what’s the return? Blessing!
It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Many reading this I don’t know. But this I know about you. Serving and giving of yourself is challenging. And you’re right! It is. It’s a sacrifice. There’s gonna be days you won’t feel like serving. There are days I don’t feel like serving. You’re tired. I’m tired. All God’s kids are tired!
But…What if serving is the key to getting the surge of energy we need to keep pushing ahead? Much like running, cycling, or swimming, you and I forget the aches and depleted reserves and discover when we serve, we also get this rush of not endorphins but blessings. Not stuff, but real blessings!
I’m talking about blessings such as serenity, peace that passes understanding, tranquility, and assurance that floods our spirit and soothes those aches and rejuvenates depleted reserves. What if giving ourselves to serve another gives us that good feeling to keep pushing ahead, knowing we’ve done precisely what Jesus commanded?
I’ll bet we’d change how we respond. Maybe we’d serve with a better attitude. I know I could use that. Or, instead of waiting to be asked to serve, we take the initiative and seek to serve. And not just in the church but in our homes and places of work.
Yes, I know there is a much-needed time for rest. Indeed you shouldn’t fill every nook and cranny of your calendar. Margin is wise. Downtime is critical. I’m simply suggesting we challenge ourselves to push a little further, always with rest and margin in mind.
In any of the three sports I’ve mentioned, it inevitably works out like this; I’ll never know how far I can go until I’m pushed beyond where I’ve been. Sometimes that takes a coach or a trainer. I have one now, helping me learn to swim better.
We all have coach and trainer and a whole lot more in the Holy Spirit. What if we started asking Him to “Send me to serve.” And then expect Him to answer. I’ll bet we’d find a blessing awaiting on the other side that no surge of endorphins can match.
Why? Because it’s a blessing promised by Jesus. And I think that carries just a bit of authority, don’t you? So, who ya gonna serve this week? How are you gonna serve? Where are you gonna serve? The blessing is there waiting! It’s up to you to claim it!
You are loved!