You’re Calling Me as I Am to New Wine

Have you ever read the Psalms or Ecclesiastes? What about Job? Have you paid attention to the words Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? I don’t know that we’ll ever see anything more honest or raw than these words. That is unless we’re brave enough to be as honest and raw with our own prayers. For some reason, there’s a common misbelief among believers that we can’t be honest with God or each other. We can’t share our real feelings. Our hard feelings. Our questions and our doubts. Ask any Christian leader or figure if they’ve ever hidden their feelings from God and others. They will admit they have. I know because every true Christian leader I’ve ever followed has shared the same story. At times in our lives, we’re afraid to be honest. We’re afraid to share our feelings, questions, and doubts. Why is that? Why do we have this impulsive need to answer, “I’m blessed and highly favored” when asked how we’re doing? When the truth is we don’t feel blessed and we certainly don’t feel favored? We’re human. We don’t like being vulnerable and transparent. It leaves us feeling exposed and open to attack, criticism, abandonment, you name it… but what if we stopped fearing the vulnerable and transparent? What if instead of being afraid, we were hopeful? What if we were honest and real and believed that we would be loved and accepted and held in that? I think… no. I know we’d all be better off for it. Think about it. David is a man after God’s own heart. Solomon is the wisest man. Job is known for His extreme faith even in extreme loss. Jesus is Jesus. Perfect and without sin. God Himself sent to earth to save us.

You might be thinking, “Come on Brittany, those people are thousands of years dead. And are we even sure their stories are true? What if it’s all a story and not history?” That’s fair. I’ll allow your doubt and skepticism here and counter you with a modern and personal example. Let me warn you first. If you don’t actually want an answer to your prayers, then don’t pray. Because like it or not, God will answer. When He does it’s up to you to respond or not.
About a month or two ago, I felt God asking me to do something I wouldn’t have chosen to do myself. So, I was honest with Him. “I don’t want to do this. If you want me to, I’m gonna need you to have someone directly ask me about it. I’ll take that as Your sign.” A week or more later, someone directly asked me about it. So, now I’m doing the thing.
A few weeks ago, I wrote out several pages worth of frustration into my journal. I was brutal and honest and raw. I did not hold back. I felt like I was doing all the talking and all the work, while God sat back and watched. He was providing, don’t get me wrong, and I told Him I was grateful for it. That was and is true. Still, I felt like God kept asking me to do the big things that required a lot out of me, but was doing the bare minimum on His end. I journaled about this for a couple of days. I know God is a good God. I know He loves me and provides for me. I also know He doesn’t have to do what I want Him to do. I know that His way is always better than my way. That said, I have trust issues. And sometimes I find it hard to believe God wants to bless me when I’ve spent the past several years not knowing if or when or how my daily needs would be met. I know He loves me. I know He always provides. I know that over and over again the Bible calls us to worry about today’s provision today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. It would be nice to have some cushion though. It’d be nice to know if something happens tomorrow, then I’ll be covered. I understand I have it a lot better than most of the world does. I know I am blessed. And I know that if He wanted to, then God could provide more for me, but He hasn’t. And sometimes I feel like He doesn’t want to. Sometimes I feel like He cares, but not as much on this side of Heaven as He does in Heaven. Does that make any sense at all?
I journaled all these feelings out and got super specific. I was honest and raw and real. Over the next several days, God answered my prayers. I didn’t know it then, but it started on Sunday when the pastor asked our worship leader to sing a song she wrote called “You’re Calling Me.” At first, I liked it because I like our worship leader and have yet to dislike anything she sings, especially if she wrote it. But then she (Shelby, who doubles as my best friend) and I were talking to some friends at church about “plan B’s.” I said I didn’t have one and I was fine with that. She reminded me I have a CDL, so bus driving is technically my Plan B. I responded with an emphatic, “NO!” to that. It’s never been my plan to go back to bus driving after leaving in summer 2020. God likes to laugh in the face of our plans, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Most mornings, I go to YouTube and watch/listen to the saved recording of our worship service from the week. Every day I was listening to Shelby sing “You’re Calling Me.” On Friday, it was stuck in my head and I was struck by a line that says, “You can do whatever you want to do. Whatever it is I’ll do whatever you ask me to.” That got some good journaling out of me because I was singing it, but I wasn’t sure if I meant it.
A little while later, a song by FM Static called, “Take Me As I Am” played over my shuffled liked songs on Spotify. I was struck by the lines, “I was too scared to start now I’m too scared to let go.” Could that be for me? Am I too scared to start now but will one day never want to let go?
Later that same day, a third song struck me. “New Wine” by Hillsong popped into my head. So, I listened to it and was caught by the line, “When I trust You I don’t need to understand.” ’nuff said.
Y’all, when I say God had me journaling my heart out for days after this, I mean it! It’s like I couldn’t stop. I was still caught on the feelings I’d had before, but I was also struck by a new faith and a new trust. I’m not made over yet, but I’m being made over and I have further proof of it.
Remember how I said I wasn’t planning to bus drive ever again? And how God laughs at our plans? And how if you don’t actually want the answer, then don’t pray, because He will answer? Yeah… well… I’ve been driving for UberEats and DoorDash for a few years now. In the summer, I took it on as my only source of income. I was loving it. Then, for the fifteenth time that day and at least the fiftieth time that week, I drove past a school bus on Tuesday. It was a little over a week after my emphatic “NO!” to bus driving being my “plan B.” Surprise, Surprise. God used this bus to say, “That’s the answer to your prayers.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. He didn’t answer. I knew. “Aww, man… Okay…” So, I finished the delivery I was on and went straight to the bus station.
I grumbled the whole way there. “If You want me to do this, You’re gonna have to make it abundantly clear,” I prayed.
And guess what. HE DID. I went in and no less than five people asked if I was coming back. The station manager offered me the station computer to apply immediately. The hiring manager told them to interview me on the spot. I was hired the next day, went through the hiring process the next few days, and started the very next workday. It was the fastest process I’ve ever experienced. Even the station manager was surprised it happened so quickly. God made it abundantly clear He wanted me to work there again. He made it abundantly clear He is in the business of answering prayer and providing in big and insane ways.
So, why did I share all this? Why have I written yet another insanely long blog post that maybe no one will read? Because I care about you! Because I want you to know you’re not alone. I want you to know that no matter how long we’ve been in church (my whole life) and saved (since I was six) we all wonder and question and doubt. We all ask God for another way. We all ask if He’s even listening. Seriously, read the Psalms. David was a man after God’s own heart and asked quite a few times, “Why are you ignoring me? Why aren’t you listening?” God doesn’t ignore us. And He always listens. He always provides and He always answers. We have to listen and we have to respond even when we don’t want to. Even today God wants us to be honest with Him. He wants us to run to Him and cling to Him and face our fears and worries head-on. He’s willing to hold our feelings, answer questions, and even provide signs of what He wants from us. Three songs and a school bus told me He was listening and providing. What is it He’s using to speak to you? Are you listening? Do you need a sign? God is willing to prove Himself, especially when you’re honest. Thomas doubted Jesus was Jesus, so He let him touch His wounds. A father in the Gospels admitted, “I believe. Help me with my unbelief” and Jesus healed the man’s son as a sign the father’s faith wasn’t in the wrong place. Be open. Be honest. Be real. Be raw. God is big. Bigger than you’ll ever know. He can handle your feelings. He can handle your honesty. He is listening and answering every day!

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you need anything! Like seriously. I’m here for you!

Find me on Twitter and Instagram @ogbrittanyalex

Find my podcasts “The Mask; Her Aid” and “Obsessive Girl Podcast.”

You can also buy my book “The Mask; Her Aid” by Brittany Alexandria on Amazon for Kindle.

Serve & Be Served–The Truth about Volunteering at Church

There seems to be a weird stigma around volunteering at church. For some reason, few people seem to want to do it. Every church I’ve ever been to–all two of them–are constantly short-handed when it comes to volunteers. Why is that? We all have spiritual gifts, Paul tells us that very clearly in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and a few miscellaneous verses throughout the New Testament. It’s also taught indirectly through several other passages as God uses people and their natural abilities to serve Him and grow the Kingdom So, why is there such a stigma around serving in the church? We could point fingers and say people are selfish with their time. For some that may be true, but I don’t think that’s the root cause. It could be that it’s not clear to everyone what is or isn’t volunteer work, but that’s not it. Churchs are constantly asking members to serve here or there or wherever help is needed. So, what’s the problem then? I think it’s a few things: a) People don’t know their spiritual or personal gifts. b) People don’t see how their talents could possibly be useful in the church. c) People don’t understand how exhausting it is for the ministry leaders and servers when no one else volunteers. d) People don’t understand how much of a gift serving can be to both those who are served and those who do serve. e) Some other reason I haven’t thought of.

a) People don’t know their spiritual or personal gifts. It’s easy to understand why a lot of people don’t know what their spiritual gifts are. I grew up in the church and went to a Christian school. Even I didn’t know anything about spiritual gifts until I was senior in high school. There are over a dozen spiritual gifts. Mine are mercy, discernment, and encouragement. Basically, that means I’m really good with people. I feel with them, I’m a good judge of character, and I’m good at encouraging them. If you’d like to find out your spiritual gift(s) then I highly recommend you google “spiritual gifts test” and take a couple assessments. It’s always helpful to get a “second or third opinion” because they are man-made tests so they could be wrong. I like to take several personality and type tests, so I always take at least a few to get a more accurate understanding of where I fit. And keep in mind, we can grow our spiritual gifts. It’s not like your born with one it’s the only one you’re stuck with for the rest of your life. God wants us to become as gifted as we can be.

b) People don’t see how their talents could possibly be useful in the church. Even before I knew anything about my spiritual gifts, I knew I loved kids. I’ve always wanted to be a mommy and I have a bunch of younger siblings. Where better could there be for a girl like me to serve than in Children’s Ministry and or Youth? What about you? What are your passions? What are you good at? Are you good at singing or playing instruments? Join the worship team! Do you love kids? Join children’s ministry! Are you a talker? Do you like people? Join the welcoming team/guest services! Are you interested in computers and other gadgets? Join the tech team! Can you build things? Organize? Work behind the scenes by helping set up and take down for various events. Have other talents or interests? Talk to your pastor, the elders, your mentor, or people you’re close to. I’m sure anyone who knows you could help you find somewhere to serve. A lot of spiritual gifts quizzes also give suggestions on where you can serve.

c) People don’t understand how exhausting it is for the ministry leaders and servers when no one else volunteers. It’s possible some (or a lot) of people don’t serve because they think the leaders and regular servers have everything under control. Some may even think it’s not their job, because “I don’t have kids” or “I’m too young” or something else. Maybe they’re insecure for one reason or another. Here’s the thing though, serving on a regular basis can be exhausting, especially if it prevents you from hearing the weekly sermons. I served every two to three weeks in children’s ministry from twelve to fifteen years old. Then, I started serving every week as one of the children’s ministry leaders until I was eighteen. Then, I changed it to every other week for a few months. Took a short break when I started going to a new church and quickly started serving every week again at this new church. I did that for three or so more years until I eventually burnt myself out from serving almost every week for a decade. I wasn’t even the leader of children’s ministry. Can you imagine how exhausted Pastors, Worship Leaders, Children’s Ministry Leaders, Youth Leaders, other ministry leaders and all their family must feel? Leading and serving can be thankless jobs, but they continue to do it, especially when they’re short on volunteers. Maybe you can help relieve some of the stress and exhaustion your leaders and regular volunteers may be feeling by joining one or more of the ministry teams! Whether you do or don’t, try to remember to encourage and thank those who do serve, especially the leaders; they probably need to hear it!

d) People don’t understand how much of a gift serving can be to both those who are served and those who do serve. I don’t have any regrets about taking time off from serving for a while. If I hadn’t, then I would have ended up serving with a bitter heart and that’s worse than not serving at all. God is very clear about how He cares far more about our heart than our sacrifices and service. If we aren’t doing it out of love, then He doesn’t want it. He wants us to want to serve Him and others. That said, a couple weeks ago, my best friend let me know our Children’s Ministry had been looking for more volunteers. She didn’t know this until I told her afterward, but God had been nudging my heart for a couple months at that point that it was almost time to get back into serving with children’s ministry. So, I took that as my cue. I offered to help once a month as a means of dipping my toes in the water before jumping all in. As my life would have it though–because I’m an all or nothing kind of girl–I was asked at the same time to serve, at least for a few weeks, with the youth. Little did anyone know, God had also been urging me to see about serving in Youth with the same kids I had served in children’s ministry two years prior.

Last week, I served in Youth for the first time in years. Today, I served in the nursery with the babies and toddlers also for the first time in years. I knew I had missed it, but I didn’t know how much! I was nervous about getting burnt out again. But both last week and this week, God quickly assured me that He is calling me to serve again. He wants me to help the kids and babies and He’ll be with me at every step. The second I walked through the doors of the youth room and then through the door to the nursery, my heart immediately filled with joy and contentment. I belong with kids and youth. I belong somewhere where I can serve and encourage others. Where people in need and young Church kid hearts are, that is where I belong! I grew up as a church kid, so I know what it’s like and what is needed in these areas. God seems to agree (aka, it’s His plan and He just nudged my heart with it) because that’s where He has me serving.

I can assure you that if you serve and you do it with a heart that wants to serve God and others, then you won’t regret it! Even after I got burnt out on serving for a decade, I never regretted it. I just needed a break. If you can’t serve with the right heart, then I urge you to pray for God to humble and encourage you to have a servant’s spirit. Afterall, Matthew 20:28 says, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” If that’s not encouragement enough for you, then surely, praying for God to guide you will be! 🙂

(also, I totally recommend you go read that whole passage! It’s a good one!)

*Helpful Tip* If you want to serve where you can be a big help, but want to take on a little “less responsibility” at first, then here are two suggestions. If you’re an extrovert, then try the welcoming team/guest services! 🙂 You can chat with people as they come in and be the first smiling face newcomers see! If you’re an introvert, then try the tech team! I’ve filled in a few times when needed and as intimidating as it seems, it’s not too difficult, at least not if you’re just clicking arrows for the slides. Maybe you can volunteer for that and then learn the more complicated stuff?

e) Some other reason I haven’t thought of. Can you think of other reasons people might not serve in the church? Feel free to share them with me! 🙂