When I was a kid, I volunteered for everything. Volunteering was fun. I got to do new things. I was entrusted with responsibilities by adults. It was cool! But as I started into my teenage years and “matured” into an adult, I found myself volunteering less and less. By the time I got to The Citadel, I fully understood the military concept of volunteering. If you’re not familiar with how the military does volunteers, it’s usually when a superior looks over a group of troops, mentally selects the ones he or she needs for the job which requires “volunteers,” and then barks out as he or she points, “You, you, and you. You’re volunteers.” It seems like as we grow from being a kid into being an adult, we want to volunteer less and less. So this leads to a military system of volunteerism. Why do we seek to avoid volunteering? Because volunteering means taking on responsibility. It means being accountable. And our world has so brainwashed into thinking that we should all be free, that the ideal is to be wealthy and healthy and devoid of any responsibility or work, that being responsible and accountable is looked at as a negative situation.
Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.” – Genesis 43:8-10, NASB
Jacob and his family was starving due to the severe famine. However, he was reticent to let his boys go back to Egypt to get food because the guy there demanded they bring their youngest son the next time they came. Jacob had two sons from Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. He believed Joseph to be dead and he didn’t want to lose Benjamin. So he continually refused to let the brothers go and buy food. But things had reached a critical situation. They had to have food. So Judah steps up and puts his own life on the line. He takes responsibility. He volunteers.
Usually when volunteers are called for in our lives, something needs to be done. When no one volunteers, it doesn’t get done. This is especially true when God is calling His Church to action. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit He might be calling each one of us to serve Him in some way. He’s asking us to step up. He’s asking us to take responsibility. He’s asking us to volunteer. But because we’ve been seduced with this idea that being free means having no responsibilities, we seek to avoid them. The fact of the matter is we’re always going to have responsibilities. Once we’ve accepted Jesus as Lord, we have a responsibility to love and serve Him. He is looking for us to be like Judah and step up. He wants us to respond like Isaiah and say, “Here am I.”
With all that said, I think back to my attitude as a kid. I remember the excitement I felt when I volunteered and the adult said, “Okay, here’s what you need to do.” I remember the pride I felt knowing that someone older and smarter than me was entrusting with something they considered at least somewhat important. Whether it was helping clean up the gym, serving as manager over the hot cocoa stand, designing safety awareness signs, or teaching a young kid how to hit a baseball, I was making a difference. That was my motivation. I was making a change in a person or in the environment around me. Now I didn’t see it big picture like that. But I did see that I was doing something that helped in some way. And that was good enough. God wants us to look at His calling the same way. He is wiser and older than any of us, and He has tasks He considers important. And He offers them to us to make a difference. We can respond the way the world has taught us to (“No thanks, God, I’m looking to be free,”) or we can step up with the same enthusiasm as a kid and take on whatever it is He wants us to do. Did Christ say something about having faith like a child? I think that applies to how we should respond to His call as well. Oh, and by the way, the world’s definition of free is wrong. We were free when we first believed and the blood of Jesus covered and washed away our sins, not a second before. That’s when we truly became free. Freedom isn’t about dodging responsibility. Freedom is about having the opportunity to choose to serve the Lord.