“Grow where you’re planted”: this was a saying I took to heart growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As soon as I had my driver’s license, I called the community center to ask if I could volunteer. So for the next several years, I would start many of my days at 5 a.m., just so I could serve eggs, grits and the kind of love only the Lord can give that early in the morning.
I invested in multiple ministries and in my school, and it shows. I love my hometown and still pray for friends and ministries back home. I think I miss it not because it necessarily offered the best of everything, but because I sought out the positive there.
In Cedar Rapids, I was proactive. I had decided to live by Ephesians 5:16, “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” I had a mission, and I was willing to sacrifice time, sleep, and more fun or exciting opportunities. Instead, I chose to spend my time asking smelly old men if they would like their eggs over easy or sunny side up. Then later that night, I might watch a teenager, high as a kite, sit in on devotions just so that he could get a free meal afterwards.
These were all people I loved. While I struggled with how to show God’s love to them in a way they could understand, I knew that even if I never saw any change in their lives, there was definitely change in my life. Some people assume that I loved to volunteer because I wanted to save the world or something, but the real reason was because I knew the only person I can be responsible for is myself. By sharing the Gospel with others through my words and my actions, I was preaching the Gospel to myself daily. This kept me growing, and kept my love for Christ growing.
Things have changed quite a bit, however. I believe the Lord led me to JBU for some crazy reason I have yet to discover. I’ve had a bit of a hard time becoming truly planted here in Siloam Springs. Pouring into my home community was emotionally draining, and cut a serious chunk out of my sleep schedule. I’ve struggled with whether I want to give that all up again, when I know I am only going to be here a few more years. Not to mention, I don’t understand this community. I grew up in Cedar Rapids, and I understand the issues and the culture there. I hardly know the Siloam Springs community outside of the JBU campus.
Yet all of these are just excuses. I know the Lord grows and blesses us when we are obedient to His will. That’s why finding a place I can invest and serve in here at JBU is a top priority for my second year. It can seem distracting from our expensive education, or like it’s not worth the time. But I know that if you begin to let God use you through service, you can also begin to truly experience what it means to rest in the Lord.
Coming back from a summer filled with pool parties and popsicles, the books can hit you pretty hard. Many of us have to adjust to the new schedules and spend hours upon hours studying. This makes signing up for anything outside of class overwhelming. But please, make time to pour into a ministry. Don’t be like me, making excuses. None of those excuses helped me one bit last year.
Still, it is quite normal for humans to make excuses. Even Jeremiah tried to make the excuse that he was too young to serve. God just replied by saying, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jer. 1:7-8). Stop making excuses, and grow where you’ve been planted—right here in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.