1 Corinthians 9:19 (the message)
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people…
Honestly, I was searching for another verse I’d read in a devotion yesterday when I came across the verse above this morning. I laughed out loud. Kind of guffawed, really. Not because it’s funny but because it’s so…
The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, declares in this letter that he is free from the demands and expectations of everyone. He chooses, volunteers!, to serve any and all to reach them for Christ, but make no bones about it…Paul is not operating or living under the demands and expectations of people. Any people. At all.
Well, then. How does that work, Paul?
This post won’t be a complete, well-rounded thought. Because I feel like this is something I have to let soak in.
Leighton was fussing so I decide to take her for a stroll. As I’m pushing her around the pond nearby I’m fully aware of my restless heart. A clear recognition that a walk with my sweet girl on this beautiful spring day should bring joy…the ahhhhh moment you absorb into your mommy heart.
But my heart is restless. I’ve been warring against a restless heart for so long it seems.
I stop to pick a yellow flower (well, weed!) that she always loves. I point out a turtle on a log nearby. I smell the scents of the season, honeysuckle and moist earth. I notice the moss growing inside the cracks on the asphalt pathway. I’m trying to be present. Enjoy it.
My heart senses a whisper…
You don’t enjoy and absorb the moment because you are always in the next moment.
And I realize this is true. But it’s a surprise to me, really. I have not always been a “next moment” kind of person. Actually, I have been pretty good about throwing aside the weight of what’s next and diving into the now. Absorbing the joy…sensing gratitude rise up. So I am rather baffled.
When did I become a next moment person? When did my once mostly care-free, type B personality take on the characteristics of a perfectionist type A? Let’s be clear here: I am not really a type A. I will never be. But I carry within me a measure of the weight…the I can’t relax and enjoy this because I know what else I need to do and what else I’m supposed to do and what else everyone else wants me to do.
I’m so weary of it.
After our walk Leighton and I wandered around the yard. Watered some plants and potted some flowers for my deck. Collected some rocks and baby pine cones for a basket. We got sticky with sweat and had dirt under our nails when we were finished. I think she enjoyed it and so did I. Like smile on my face enjoyed it.
I don’t know. This post will not end with an epiphany. But I’m wondering about this Paul business. About freedom from demands and expectations. Freedom to choose to give, to serve, to love.
I’m thinking that joy and peace and absorbing the moments may be tied into the freedom to choose. I’m not talking about choosing not to love or serve or give. But I’m saying that Paul was fulfilled and passionate and full of Jesus out from underneath the demands and expectations of others.
Paul was not serving or giving to others with a twisted arm. He was not motivated by fear of disappointing someone’s expectations. Paul would not live with the weight of failure to perform.
Paul was free from the demands and expectations of everyone.
And so Paul was able to give, wholeheartedly and freely, to anyone.
Perhaps the joy is in the choosing. Giving from our hearts, not from a sense of duty or demand.
Sigh…this is a tough one. But I’m going to ruminate. See what God might show me…
I truly long to give, to be a blessing to others. But something is amiss sometimes. The joy is lost because I’m in the next moment, feeling the strain of pressure…hearing the raspy reminder of expectations I can never seem to fully meet. Demands I sometimes don’t want to meet.
And yet I want to love and live, fully alive in each moment. These moments add up to hours and days and my life, after all.
I don’t begin to understand Paul and how he arrived here. But I know he suffered greatly…said he would be honored to have his life poured out like a drink offering. And I also know that his joy was uncontainable…in prison cells, shipwrecked, beaten bloody.
Yet he was free.
And so I want to be.