Skin in the Game

Have you ever felt spiritually tired, worn out or lifeless? Maybe you’ve grown up in the church but haven’t found where you fit. Or maybe you are new to faith, but life is hard, and all the demands of work, friends and family have depleted your drive to seek Jesus. Maybe the past is haunting you and getting past your own history feels impossible. I understand. I was there too.

After we moved to the Lacey area and found a church, this new adventure of starting over in a new town challenged me to lean on Jesus even more than I had in the past. But as time went by, I settled into a life of structure: attend church, go to Bible study, and have my Jesus time. Each day began the same and ended the same. I was spiritually “bored,” and I had no idea what to do with myself. What’s next? I felt completely insignificant, and my internal conversation (“You’re not good enough for anything”) seemed to be playing in stereo. Why? Because I discounted everything about myself. I believed my past disqualified me from moving on in my faith. Yes, I believed in Jesus. Yes, He was my LORD and Savior. Yes, He redeemed my life…and? What? Where do I go for here? 

Then, it happened. I heard of a world view program I wanted to get involved in. It was just what I needed, I thought, to propel my faith. I made an appointment with my pastor. As we met, he agreed to send me to the world view training. As I was leaving his office he said, “Our new youth pastor is really into worldview stuff. Have you met him?” I hadn’t, so we scheduled an appointment. When I went into the meeting with our new youth pastor, we chatted about worldview and then he said, “By the way, I could use someone to sit in the back with the middle school girls on Sunday morning. I have a teacher for the class. All you need to do is be the girl in the back of the room.” At this point, I have no idea what happened. I heard myself say “I can do that.” What in the world? How did this happen? I’m here to talk serious theology and this pastor asks me to help with middle school?? And I said, “Yes?” This is CRAZY!

That was almost 16 years ago. Being that “girl in the back of the room” changed my life completely! What started one cold, rainy Sunday morning with middle schoolers was the catalyst propelling me toward God’s call and a life of service I never imagined would bring me such joy and purpose. I honestly have no idea if my being in that Sunday morning class helped any kid, but I have been forever changed. God changed ME, through those students.  Since that day, I have volunteered with children, youth and families. I have met amazing people. We have prayed together, learned God’s word together, cried together, laughed together and much more.

 What I have learned while investing in others is priceless. What God has shown me through volunteering is eternal.

1.     Jesus modeled service:

Mark 10:45 For the Son of Man did not come to be serve, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.

2.     We are created for service:

Eph.2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God; not of works, so anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

3.     We go through hard times for service:

 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Stumbling is one thing. Staying down is another. The way God redeems everything in our lives is through walking us through pain. Then we are empowered by The Holy Spirit to walk with others, through their pain. We get to “pay it forward.” This is a community in which we build each other up, help each other through and walk alongside each other. 

Before I began volunteering, I remember thinking I didn’t really want “other people’s problems.” Looking back, I see how very wrong my thinking was in every way. The call of a believer in Jesus is to have “skin in the game.” The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” and they had “all things in common.” Acts 2:42, 44 They lived life together, as a community. This is the way of Jesus. And being a servant, like Jesus means you owe it to the people around you, to give back in some form or fashion. We all have “skin in the game.” 

- Lori Schiewek

Daniel Sabo