Our very own Josh serving as a camp counselor this summer.

Sharing his love for children, his gift of leading, and his silliness to help teach kids about Jesus.

The Wednesday Word Devotional – “For Everything There is a Season”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

I recently sat down with a woman from church who was preparing for a big change in her life. She had spent her adult life caring for others – her students, her children, her husband. Taking care of others is what she did, who she was. And now, aside from her dog, she was entering a new season of her life where she would only be responsible for taking care of herself.

Perhaps this is a season that you have already lived through. Maybe your kids grew up making you an empty nester. Perhaps you retired from a job that gave you purpose. Or your significant other exited your home by way of divorce, death, or need of greater care. There are a lot of paths that bring us into this season. Perhaps this path lies not behind you but in front of you. And maybe this season is all too familiar for you.

I grew up in Salt Lake City Utah, which (unlike Las Vegas) has four distinct seasons. And each season requires different wardrobes, different tools, different schedules, and different preparations. When summer came, our bikes moved to the front of the garage and the patio furniture cushions came out. When fall came, we put away the garden hose and pulled out the rakes. It was quite a production winterizing the house in addition to putting the lawn mower away and getting the snow blower out. And spring cleaning was a whole event each year.

Every season was met with both excitement and sadness. The end of summer meant no more week-night slumber parties, but it meant brand new school supplies and clothes. The end of winter meant no more dragging our toboggans with us to slide down the hill at recess, but the monkey bars wouldn’t be too cold to hold onto. Every season meant saying hello to something while goodbye to something else. So back to the woman I started with. Back to her season.

As I sat with her and listened to the changes that were coming and what she was going to do to fill the time and space that not being a caregiver was going to bring, all I kept hearing was ways that she could give to others, do for others. For the first time in decades, she had a chance to just care for herself. She was going to be in a place where she could do what she wanted whenever she wanted. And all she wanted to do was to serve.

It made me realize that no matter what season we are at in our lives and in our faith stories, serving God is meant to be a part of it. Even as little children, we are taught to serve. We see that in our own church. In Sunday school the children serve by singing in church, making cards for vets, and doing random acts of kindness around campus. When they become teenagers and enter youth group, they continue to serve by volunteering at the community garden, going on mission trips, serving as camp counselors, helping at the pantry. I see young adults serving in the church leading mom’s groups and Bible studies, playing in the band, helping at VBS. And I see many retired seniors in the church participating in the behind-the-scenes work that makes
church happen every Sunday: folding bulletins, preparing the communion elements, restocking the pews, serving on committees. There is always a place and a way for us to serve.

It is in serving others that we discover who we are. I believe that service is a gift not just to those we serve, but to ourselves. When we are helping, we are connecting — to those we are serving as well as those who are serving beside us. Helping others gives us purpose and pleasure and it triggers the part of our brain that reduces stress. Helping gives us hope. And, most importantly, helping others helps us to fulfill God’s greatest commandments that we read about in Matthew 22, which are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

To everything there is a season and a way to be in service. So here are a few questions that might help you to think about the season that you are in and the ways in which God might be calling you to serve.
• What are the things that you are passionate about? Is it children? The environment? Talking about Jesus?
• What are the things that you are good at? Is it teaching? Organizing? Comforting? Technology?
• Where do you see problems? Is it the widow next door who has no-one to shop for her? Is it your child (or grandchild’s) school teacher who needs people to read with his students? Is it hunger? Poverty? Injustice?
• Who in your neighborhood, family, community, or church is God nudging you to help?
• What is one small problem or need that could use your passion and talent to address?

Dear Lord. I come to you in this season of my life ready to serve, ready to give, ready to follow your great commandments. Help me to recognize the places and people around me whose needs line up with my gifts. And help me to use the gifts that you have given me to love my neighbors.