AM Psalm 6, 12; PM Psalm 94
Lamentations 1:17-22; 2 Corinthians 1:8-22; Mark 11:27-33
He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted to us through the prayers of many … For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God.
- 2 Corinthians 1:10-11, 20
In this past year, following a period of about five years of stagnation and little growth, I have experienced a great number of blessings from God. I attribute this change to the phrase, “How can I serve?”
I asked this question for the first time (genuinely) last May, shortly after I had moved to Bellingham. In recent years I had been drawn toward positive thinking and daily goal setting. But on this day, instead of my usual “What can I accomplish [for myself] today?,” for some reason I asked, “How can I serve today?” I felt God’s presence as a rush of warmth, light, and understanding, and I felt a renewed power to take things on.
Making personal goals is not to be decried—on the contrary. But for myself, I found that replacing my daily musing “What can I do for me?” with “How can I serve?” brought a feeling of connectedness to God that I had never known before. Since this desire to serve has been awakened, I believe I’ve been blessed.
But this prompts a question: Does one seek to serve others primarily for one’s own benefit? If that is so, I do not believe it nullifies the effect for the recipient. Some ask whether altruism exists; I say God works through our actions. The hungry person is satisfied when fed regardless of whether the cook was truly being selfless, or it just made them “feel good.” We needn’t let the fact that our selfish thoughts can creep into our altruistic thoughts prevent us from doing good.
There are still so many days when I forget to ask, “How can I serve?,” especially during the dark winter months when it is so easy for the focus to be drawn inward. But the days when I do ask the question are inevitably brighter. I believe Lent is a time to repeat this question with renewed vigor, that we can be prepared to say “thank you” for the blessings that follow.
- Clare Koesters