God will ensure that our efforts make a difference.
By Lindsay Fitz
Be still and know that I am God! I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.— Psalm 46:10
Be still. Really? We’re New Yorkers; even more so, we’re volunteers, we’re church officers. No one has time to be still.
This is exactly the mentality that has made this verse so prominent in my life, ever since I first studied it at Kanakuk Christian Camp in the Ozark mountains, when I was in seventh grade. In various translations, this verse can mean:
- Cease striving
- Snap out of it
- Wake up
- Stop fearing
Throughout my life, I have returned to this verse as I’ve aggressively pursued everything in my life—education, career, success. And it has always served to calm me and center me on what’s truly meaningful—my relationship with God.
I also found myself relying on this verse during my time serving on the Board of Deacons. The life of a Deacon is incredibly busy, so these translations—Stop, Cease—all seem to run counter to what we have to do. Being a Deacon is a three-year commitment that can seem overwhelming and even lead to feelings of inadequacy. Who am I to think I can make a difference? Who am I to be a church officer? That’s when I remember this verse, and remember that God invites us to rest and relax in who God is; to acknowledge that God’s got this, and that God will ensure that our seemingly minor efforts will make a difference.
I need this assurance. As our busy lives demand more of our time, it's tempting just to put our Deacon duties on the "to do" list, forgetting the goal of service, forgetting that every Sanctuary duty, visitee commitment, Angel Tree shift, clothing drive or Bowery Mission service is a profound opportunity to experience God and to rest and relax in God's presence.
This verse also calls us to be in awe of God. My Deacon service constantly left me in awe. Here are just two examples:
Every Deacon is assigned an elderly, homebound couple or person to visit, call and write letters to throughout our term of service. I was paired with Diane and Allen, who were a perfect match for me from the start. However, even this act of service could get muddled in my "to do" list. But every time that I let myself be still and remember my commitments and show up, God would bless the time I spent with them. I experienced more acts of kindness simply by visiting with them than I did in many other areas of my life. Every time I walked into their home, their faces would light up, and in casual conversation—without complaining—they would mention how I was the only person who had visited them that week, the only person who called them, the only person they had talked to. That made me pause and realize what a profound responsibility I have to simply show up for them.
Diane treats me like family, and when my mother was in town for Easter, she went out shopping (no easy feat for her) and bought my mother and me Godiva Easter bunnies. Diane also called me out of the blue last holiday season simply to say that she knows that I recently went through a break-up, and that she knows it’s tough to be single during the holidays, and she wanted me to know she is praying for me and thinking of me. These moments with Diane and Allen are some of the most transformative moments of my spiritual life, and God once again showed me that I can stop striving and stop fearing, because God will make my service meaningful.
The first time I served communion, I was awestruck by how profound an opportunity and privilege it is to serve the bread and blood of Jesus to my fellow worshipers. I also felt insignificant to the task at hand. But again, relying on this verse to stop fearing, I experienced communion on a deeper level than ever through the fellowship it provided between myself and the pastors, and sharing this experience with my fellow congregants. God said, Wake up and stop fearing; I will make your service meaningful.
These are just two of the many, many moments of my Deacon service that left me in awe, and deepened my experience and relationship with God. My time as a Deacon made me realize that these commitments and experiences were moments to be still, to stop striving, to snap out of it, to wake up, to stop fearing, to experience GOD at work (not me), and to be in awe.
I hope that in the busyness of service, you can be still. Because God's got this; God’s got you, and all your efforts and expectations.
Lindsay Fitz, a member of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church for nine years, completed her term as a Deacon earlier this year. She shared this testimony during our annual volunteer event, Feed Your Soul, on Nov. 6.