Connecting with your community through volunteer work can create numerous stages for showing God's goodness.
When I was a child, I remember hearing quartets sing, "I want my life to tell for Jesus; that everywhere I go, men may His goodness know . . ."
Where do I go that His goodness will show?
1) We start at the most basic of groups, our families and within our homes. For most Nazarenes, among family, church involvement, and employment hours, the days are full. However, Jesus did not spend all of His time in the synagogue, but found those with whom He could connect outside of His disciple group.
2) Find opportunities to volunteer in your area of expertise or interest, where you can show God's goodness. For example, my love for music has taken me out of my comfort zone. I have ventured outside of the narrow nest and am finding that I can add new places where I may be able to make His goodness known. I am able to reflect God's goodness through music, while others may have abilities in financial, medical, educational, or other fields that may be shared.
3) Get connected, and watch for more doors of opportunity to swing open. The more networking I have done through musical organizations, the more invitations I have received to bring music to secular groups. This gives me a chance to include sacred music in my presentations, to give voice to the gospel of an individual piece, or to tell of the spiritual inspiration of the composer. Giving of our talents and abilities in various avenues of community service may not always yield obvious or immediate results. Yet as with the seeds of the sower, I believe that the Lord will help some of His goodness to fall on fertile soil.
Through involvement in the Oklahoma City Orchestra League, I have participated in a program called "We've Got Rhythm." This introduces the families and sounds of orchestral instruments to third-graders in more than 60 schools each year. Many of these children have no other formal introduction to God's beauty, be it visual or aural. And in one-on-one interactions, sometimes I find an open door for connecting.
We are aware that all beauty comes from our Maker-who designed it all, whether visual or aural. Sadly, exposure to the arts is curtailed or eliminated in many schools. Those of us who enjoyed such educational experiences are finding that many of these opportunities for learning and enrichment are no longer offered. Extra funds, grants, and contributions to worthy organizations that enhance our communities have diminished.
The good news is that there are opportunities to volunteer through functioning arts organizations to try to make up the slack. Any organization that we might volunteer with needs more than our time, but in offering our time, we have a chance to speak up for those things that need a voice.
These lines from a song written by the evangelist Rodney (Gypsy) Smith keep coming back to me:
O to reflect His grace, causing the world to see,
Love that will glow 'til others shall know
Jesus revealed in me.
Eleanor Whitsett is retired from the School of Music at Southern Nazarene University. She resides in Oklahoma City.
Holiness Today, March/April 2010