Like Ruth, I’m big on service to others.  In highschool, I was a candy striper at a local hospital.  I’ve helped with Scouts, and worked a local pow wow.
Service is our opportunity to connect what we learn in scriptural study and meditation to those around us.  Study lays the theory.    Service gives us the hands-on experience that cements the knowledge.

One thing that Ruth asked us to consider was whether or not we should do service if we can’t do it with a smile.  My answer?  It depends.

I recently quit a service position in my church.  Initially, I loved serving on this high-energy committee.  I looked forward to the meetings because I knew that I would come out of them excited about our next project.  Eventually, my enthusiasm waned.  Going to the meetings was like going to my well-woman exam.  Actually, I’d rather go see my extremely perky doctor.  Since I was no longer smiling, I knew it was time to quit.  Yes, I prayed about it, and then I quit.

But other times service doesn’t bring a smile to your face yet it is still something you need to do.  Once when I prayed on what I could do to serve my church, the message came through loud and clear.  “Join the choir.”

Short, simple and to the point.

I tried to ignore it.  Then one Sunday the choir master made a bee-line towards me after the service just to ask if I’d join.  Subtle?  Hardly, but I was being dense because I hate getting up in front of the congregation.

Hate it.

This would not be service with a smile on my face.  After all it is really hard to smile in the midst of a panic attack.  Once I decided to join the choir, I had panic attacks every time the choir sang and I wasn’t even in the choir yet.  Rehearsals?  More panic attacks.  Actually getting up to sing?  Did you know that when you’re scared enough, your field of vision shrinks?

I wasn’t smiling.  I was sweating.  And shaking.  And getting really pale according to those around me.  Maybe I could get out of this.  I went to the choir master who sings in the local opera theater.

He offered me a trash can.  He checked on me every now and again.  He mooched mints off me.  But not once did he offer to let me off the hook.

Service isn’t always easy.  Sometimes it rocks you back on your heels and you really can’t smile because if you do you might get sick.  But if you choose your service opportunities prayerfully, you’ll get as much out of it as you give.  Me?  When I read about Moses trying to get out of leading the people, I have a pretty good idea what he was going through.  My own experiences have brought this bit of learning to life like nothing else could.  It isn’t the lesson I expected to get, but apparently it was the one that I needed to learn.

What’s next?

I’m not 100% certain I want to know.