I can tell the story now. Everybody else is dead.

Jim and I were newlyweds, living in an apartment near the medical school. We planted our lives together in a downtown church. After a few months one of the ministers called and asked me if I would be willing to fill in for him at the nearby retirement center, where he led residents in a weekly Bible study.

I owned one commentary on the book of Philippians so I chose a familiar passage and told the group what William Barclay thought. I’m sure it was terrible.

Small OfferingsA few weeks later the overworked minister asked me to become the primary teacher at the retirement home.

For a couple of years I studied on my lunch hour and then headed out each Thursday evening after I got off work. The group always welcomed me enthusiastically in spite of my inexperience, lack of knowledge, and limited preparation.

Perhaps they were long-suffering and eager to invest in the life of a young Bible teacher. More likely, they smiled and nodded because they really couldn’t hear. Either way, God used that early experience to teach me about His faithfulness and the gift he had placed within me.

I’ve taught enough Sunday school and Bible classes at this point in my life to know that most believers struggle. We’re followers of Jesus but we can’t seem to find the passion and the joy that he promised. Depending on our age, temperament, and opportunity, we grasp at different things, but we all grasp at something.

From my own trial and error of experiences, I’ve discovered the fulfillment each of us craves will flood our life when we begin to give ourselves away.

We’ve heard plenty of biblical teaching about service, but often when we look at our own lives we fail to see what we have to offer. We think God uses other more capable people with fully developed gifts and abilities. We don’t consider how we could help one person in crisis or contemplate ways to change the world— not because we don’t care, but because we don’t think we can. We haven’t done it before. We’re looking for full-blown answers and offerings and we don’t know where to begin.

Personal experience has taught me that most good things in life come from a tiny seed. When we offer small beginnings to God, he works the miracle. If we persist, we will see steady progress. By God’s grace, our ideas, abilities, and resources will grow under his watchful eye.

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