Giving doesn't come easily. Neither does service. Both require sacrifice, a concept that seems foreign to human DNA.
A lifetime of giving and serving, though, makes the actions come more readily, proving these two character qualities must be sown and cultivated throughout our lives if we want them to become a part of our nature.
Yet, with one-year-old twins and a three-year-old, I must confess that I've found it difficult to drum up the desire to involve my children in many service opportunities. In fact, I've intentionally not involved them.
Sure, I always explain to them my personal acts of giving and service. I've even taken them along for the ride when I delivered outgrown baby items to a needy family or a prayer shawl to a woman whose husband was dying.
In all those instances, I have talked with them about how Jesus expects us to give to others who aren't as blessed as we are. I've tried to hammer those ideas home with my words and my actions.
But for all my talk and walk, I haven't gotten them really involved. My brain keeps saying, "They're too young to really understand" or "They won't remember, so don't bother." And besides, it's easier to just do it myself.
But my soul has flinched at those thoughts, wondering when is the right age? What if I wait too late?
Last year, our church ministered to a local nursing home by worshiping with them one Saturday a month. In obedience to God's call, I answered this service opportunity. Each month, I would play too many wrong notes on their piano, hoping the small group would hear some semblance of a few old hymns. And each time, daddy would keep all three children.
This year, though, the date moved to one Tuesday each month--a day of the week when I don't have an easily-lined-up babysitter.
I knew this in January, but the morning I had to decide whether or not to take my children, I cut my fingertip off. My response to an hour's worth of bleeding? A shameful "Whew. I don't have to take the kids today."
One month later, this morning I had no excuses...and nowhere to pawn off my children. My mother had an appointment at the beauty salon; my mother-in-law had prayer meeting; my husband had work.
So listening to that less-than-still-small-voice by this point, I took the plunge--with a pack of bribery crackers in tow, of course--and prepared for the worst.
But Amelia didn't cry at the wheelchairs (a miracle in itself). Wyatt didn't break anything. Emerson didn't trip an elderly person.
At one point, I even laughed a little.
I had told Wyatt that we were going to visit some people who didn't have anybody to come love them, that Jesus wanted us to show love to others. Minutes later, he looked out across the partially-full lunchroom and asked, "Where the people who have no people to love them?"
I'm not sure what he expected lonely, love-hungry people to look like. But they looked like everybody else to him.
After the worship service, a few ladies from our church led the twins around the tables, and I prompted Wyatt to "introduce" his stuffed Tigger to several men and women. His shyness kept him glued to my legs, but he did speak a few words; he did let a couple ladies hold and bounce Tigger on the tables; and he did reluctantly hug one woman who asked for a hug.
All three of them may remember nothing about today. But it was a start...if not for them, then for me and my attitude about involving them in serving, giving, and loving like Jesus.