Whatever our age, we women are often tempted to ask ourselves what we are for and what we should be doing. Even in a nest full of hungry children, women can be dogged with these questions. The answer, of course, seems mighty obvious to the children: “Feed us! Hold us! Teach us! Love us!” But still, we often ask, “Is there something more? Something else?”
I remember asking these questions when I still had small birds in the nest. I knew the answers: God had given me work to do, work right in front of me, and it was good work — work he had particularly assigned and designed on purpose for me. So, I worked hard and fed and held and taught and loved those birds.
My birds have long ago flown the nest and now have crowded nests of their own. I still ask those questions from time to time, and I still know the answers. My physical nest may be empty, but my spiritual nest is crammed full of things to do and things to learn. God gave me duties then, and he has kindly given me duties now — in fact, even more duties, not fewer.
All that work in the early years was preparation for the work he has for me now. It turns out that now is always the moment for duties. We all have duties. There are no exceptions, no matter how old we get. Many of our duties are mundane and relate to keeping our homes. These never fly away. But it is in these mundane duties where we often find some of the richest spiritual fruit.
Preparation for Ministry
“As long as we live, our prayer should be, ‘Use me, Lord. Use me up!’”
Here is one example of a mundane duty God gave me twenty years ago. It was pretty straightforward, not out of my comfort zone at all. Our family started a weekly dinner on Saturday nights to kick off the Lord’s Day. When we started, I prepared a meal for six, or maybe a few more if we had guests. It took planning, but it wasn’t hard. I could make it complicated if I wanted to, but I seldom wanted to.
Then the grandbabies started arriving, and we added high chairs and toddler seats. Then, the babies had little brothers and sisters. Now, we have a bunch of hungry teenagers to feed. My duties stayed the same, but it required more from me than before. To be honest, I often feel like I have less strength for work that now requires more. But this is good, because now I do not breeze in feeling like I have mastered feeding the whole group. More than ever, I have to look to the Lord for strength and help.
God gave me a light load, and then gradually added to it. He trained me week by week, slowly adding more mouths to feed. But he also gave me more strength and help as the numbers increased.
Why Does God Give Us Strength?
I’ve learned countless techniques, recipes, and strategies for how to cook for a crowd, but the spiritual lessons have been far more important. I have learned to obey when I don’t feel like it. I have learned to lay down my ideal schedule and my tidy house. I have learned that obedience will always be blessed. And, of course, I am still learning.
“I’ve learned countless ways to cook for a crowd, but the spiritual lessons have been far more important.”
What a shame and waste it would be to give up now, after learning so much, after so many years of practice. How much better to be aiming to increase, to work harder, to trust him more, to get better at pleasing God in my duties, rather than simply trying to get through or looking to give up.
We don’t get to quit because it’s too much trouble, or because we don’t feel like it anymore, or because we prefer the quiet and peace of an empty house. God forbid. Our prayer should be, “God, give me more strength, so I can love you with all of it.”
Extraordinary or Mundane
You probably have different duties than I have. You may be called to long-term care for an aging mother, or a child with disabilities, or a husband with a serious illness. You may be leading a women’s ministry in your church, or teaching children in Sunday school.
Whatever your duties, extraordinary or mundane, they require more strength than you have. And that is for your good. Why? Because when you know you don’t have enough strength, you will call on the Lord for his. Whoever said, “God will never give you more than you can handle,” did not know what they were talking about. God often gives us far more than we can handle, which is why we need more strength than we have. He hears our prayers, and loves to give us his strength. And those are the times when we feel ourselves loving the Lord with all our strength.
Lord, Use Me Up
Whatever your duties, when you approach them by faith with all your strength, God will bless you with increase. Then you will have more to give back in serving and pleasing him. We don’t put spiritual increase in a savings account in case we need it for some emergency. We invest it in the duties right in front of us now. In fact, if we don’t use what we have to glorify God, we will lose it.
We must keep looking for our duties all the way to the end. God has prepared good works for us, even past the age of sixty-five. What have we learned walking with God all these years? We are to share the strength he gives us with those around us. We are to help others grow in Christ. We are called to sacrifice and serve.
“Whatever your duties, extraordinary or mundane, they require more strength than you have.”
Many of us have been affected and shaped, more than we know, by the world’s glittering agendas. By the time we are older women, we think we should be set up for retirement, so that we can travel and shop and relax. But we were not created for that. We have not been given strength so that we can relax. We have grown stronger so that we can work harder. We can bear more burdens, we can testify more clearly and boldly to the Lord’s faithfulness and grace, and we can apply ourselves to do more kingdom work than ever before.
As long as we live, our prayer should be, “Use me, Lord. Use me up!”