When someone on stage asks for a volunteer, are you quick to raise your hand? Not me. Maybe because I ask for volunteers in my job, and it usually involves that person having to do a role play in front of a room full of people. In several cases, the volunteer is used as a deficit learning exercise to show that they are lacking the skill I’m about to train. Yet, when I ask for a volunteer, people usually raise their hands.
Of course, if no one raises their hand, I say, “If I don’t have any volunteers, someone is going to get volun-told!” That’ll usually get at least someone, but they’re pretty skeptical. For me, I don’t like to volunteer unless I know what I’m volunteering for. If I know, I don’t mind raising my hand usually. I just like to know what I’m getting into. But if someone is just looking for a volunteer, and there’s no reason given, I’m not your guy.
In Isaiah 6, he describes being in Heaven and realizing how small and sinful he is. After an angel touches his lips with coal to purify him, God starts talking to the assembly of heavenly beings. In verse 8 he hears the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” Then he said, “Here I am. Send me” (NLT). Can you imagine it? God was looking across Heaven for a volunteer, and Isaiah speaks up.
I believe God is still looking for volunteers. Sometimes, like Isaiah, it’s to carry His message. Other times it may be just to encourage someone. Sometimes it’s to buy a meal for someone. Even if you don’t know what you’re volunteering for, I believe we should all be willing to pray, “Lord, I know you need volunteers today to make yourself known. I want you to know I am here and available. Pick me.”
One of the cool things I got to do this year was to be a part of YWAM’s Houston Street Church. After we set up all the chairs, the homeless and street walkers started showing up. They were fed a meal and then given a church service. There was a booth set up called Kuts for Christ. They offered free hair cuts in exchange for the ability to pray for them. After the service, those still in attendance were able to stop by some tables and pick out some clothes. Every bit of it was free and designed to help this team build relationships to win them to Christ.
As I drove away that night, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I had just witnessed and been a part of. I saw society’s outcasts waiting to hug the couple that leads this church. I saw them lining up almost two hours before the event to get help physically and spiritually. I watched a team of volunteers and full time mission workers org together to do something special for people the rest of us look away from. I witnessed ministry taking place in an unexpected place.
It reminded me of Proverbs 19:17 that says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord- and He will repay you!” (NLT) I know that these ministers aren’t doing this to get paid back by the Lord. They’re doing it as an expression of love. When I saw their faces light up as much as the people on the street, I knew this was more than a feeding and clothing program. Real relationships had been built. Real help was being given. Real ministry was being done.
One thing I’ve learned in life is that there’s always someone who has it worse than me. No matter what financial, emotional or physical state I’m in, I have the ability to help others less fortunate. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that when we do things for the poor and outcasts, we’ve done it to Him. The least of these are all around us every day. Take some time to look for them instead of away from them, and do something to help them. It doesn’t matter what they do with your help as long as you’re doing it unto the Lord.
Have you ever had a craving, drove across town to get to the restaurant, walk in, and have them tell you the kitchen us closed? I hate it when that happens. It’s worse if you’ve pulled into the parking lot, are walking up to the door, and they flip the sign to “closed” while looking at you. You just want one thing. It won’t take long, but they tell you to come back tomorrow. How does that make you feel? Angry? Disappointed? Frustrated? Sad? Lots of emotions come to mind.
The problem is, that person had the ability to satisfy your craving, but not the will. They could have gone above and beyond for a good customer like yourself, and just let you run in and get it. But they didn’t. They withheld it from you and you have to wait. When that happens, I almost want to do a personal boycott because I let my emotions get the better of me. But at the be of the day, it was just a food item I wanted. It wasn’t life or death. It won’t make or break me if I don’t get it.
Imagine someone who needs something that really will make or break them. Imagine that they need this thing to keep afloat, and you have what they need. Imagine you told them to come back tomorrow because you were busy. This isn’t a craving they’re trying to get a fix for. This is a real life, make or break situation, and you were as aloof to them as that person who looked at you and flipped the sign to close. Remember how you were feeling when they did that for a craving? Multiply that feeling for that person.
God puts people in our path each day who desperately need our help, but we are too busy to see them or too nonchalant to care. We have the opportunity daily to be God’s hands, but we rarely open them. Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, ‘Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you’” (NLT). God’s desire is that we keep our sign turned to “open” when it comes to helping others.
Have you ever been in the situation where someone asked for a volunteer and no one offered? Or have you ever seen someone in need and said, “Someone should help them”? It happens all the time. When that happens at work and someone gets chosen for the job, we say, “You just got volun-told!” When someone gets volun-told, they usually aren’t happy about it and rarely put their best effort forward.
Have you ever been volun-told by God? I have a few times. I start to pray for someone and God says, “You go help.” I start looking for excuses why I can’t help. I don’t know if it’s humorous to God or if it frustrates Him. I’m willing to pray for someone, but I’m not ready to be the answer to that prayer. Why? It’s the same reason any of don’t want to. It means we have to get involved.
What we don’t think about is that the moment we pray for someone else, we get involved. We are asking God to move on their behalf and are putting ourself in service. At work we also say that you can’t point out a problem unless you come up with a solution. It doesn’t have to be the right solution, but it needs to show that you are looking for a way to make it better. I don’t know that God needs our solutions to problems, but He does need us to be a part of the solution.
We are not here just to take and keep the good things God gives to us. We are to take those things and reinvest them. What God gives us is not our own. We are merely stewards of it. Whatever God has given you, it is to be used to be the solution for someone else, not just for your benefit. Our faith requires action. Yes, prayer is action. Yes, God can do the miraculous and provide supernaturally. Why would I want Him to do that and rob myself of the blessing of being used by Him to provide?
God doesn’t need you or I to do things in this world. He chooses to offer us opportunities to volunteer though. Are we too busy to be Jesus to someone today? Are we so caught up doing things for ourselves that we fail to do things for someone else? Jesus said when we do things for others, we’re doing it to Him, even if it is a cup of water. We get blinded into thinking that volunteering means long term commitment. Sometimes it is, but other times it’s just handing a cup of water to someone.
James 2:16 asks what good is it if you tell someone to stay warm and eat well and then don’t give that person any food or clothes. In essence that is what we are doing when we are willing to pray for someone without being willing to be that answer to prayer. Who is it in your path that needs you to be their answer? What can you do to give a “cup of water” to someone today? Are you waiting to be volun-told or will you receive the blessing by saying “Here am I, send me” like Isaiah?