I was sitting in church over the Summer minding my own business, or likely minding the children’s business, when our former pastor asked for someone to take over the role of the OCIM delegate. OCIM is a local ministry that serves the underprivileged individuals and families in our community. When the pastor asked for a volunteer, the sanctuary was silent.
Now in defense of our congregation, we are small. Most members of my church are amazing leaders and participants who hold multiple titles and minister in several ways. Everyone is already committed to so many things.
There I was convicted by the silence. I raised my hand and reluctantly said, “I will do it.”
It’s not that I do not want to pitch in or help more. I am just stretched so thin by other roles and service work and responsibilities. I work full-time, help other women with similar life stories as mine, help raise four children, have committed to two 8 week old puppies, have my role as a wife, etc.
I will wait a moment for God to chuckle and roll his eyes.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Everyone that is close to me tells me that I overcommit myself and that I need to know when it’s just too much. I am coached the most on receiving help, needing to rest, and that it is ok to say “no”. But, there I was raising my hand.
I was assured the position was pretty easy and required little effort. I would communicate updates, needs, and events to the congregation. I would remind the church from time to time about donations and attend business meetings throughout the year.
The dear lady who held the position before me had recently lost her husband and I didn’t want to trouble her for assistance. I’ve literally been winging it and in my own opinion been a pretty lackluster delegate.
This evening I attended my first business meeting. I worked all day. I picked up my son and my stranded husband, rushed home to tend to the new puppies and cook dinner. Then it was out the door again for my drive back to Orange county. It was cold and dark and I really just wanted to lay around the house.
I walked in and received a lot of introductions. I was in a sea of new smiling faces and grey hair. I sat down quietly and was told I would need to stand and introduce myself as a new delegate.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I cannot stand being the center of attention even for a moment. I get hives. I sweat. I blush. It’s not pretty. But I did it. I stood up and choked out the words, “I am Stephanie Trembley with Lebanon United Methodist.”
I quickly sat down and wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. Job done. I was just wondering how long this thing was going to last when a sweet voice from behind the microphone pointed out how great it was to have a young person involved. Then the heads turned to look back at me. Gulp.
I wanted to bolt. But I smiled and stayed put. The meeting continued and in spite of my very self-centered thoughts, I learned a lot about the ministry. The volunteers, staff, board members, and donors are hands down some of the most incredible and devoted people I have ever met. Their service impacts so many in our community.
Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the evening was a staff member reading the feedback of a recipient. The woman was a mother. She wrote that “OCIM made the difference between her smart and kind children being fed or not.” She added that OCIM made it possible for those children to change the world. I was fighting tears.
I was that mother. I’ve shared in a past post about going from a bare cabinet home to hoping someone would help me organize an avalanche of an overstocked pantry. I’ve lived that life full of worry. I’ve wondered how my child was going to eat.
In that moment, my heart changed. I was fully engaged and nearly jumping out of my seat to help.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
I didn’t feel burdened by my decision to be the delegate for my church, I felt blessed by it. I don’t always know the reasons for why I’m put in different situations. In fact, the analogy I like best for this type of fact finding, is the alphabet soup analogy. You don’t just dip your spoon in and receive complete sentences full of depth or reason. You simply get a bunch of random, jumbled up letters.
Things are rarely revealed to me even afterward (usually because I am full of those self-centered thoughts). Tonight, however, offered a true lightbulb moment. I was there not because of a very busy congregation. I was there because who better to care about this ministry than someone who at one time survived because of it?!
God puts us where He wants us. We serve where He wants us to serve.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps