Unfair joy found in serving God

It happens sometimes – probably, in fact, much more often than not – that the service to which God calls us is as much for us as it is for those we serve. He will often, I believe, put us in places where we will benefit even though we only signed up to benefit others.

Rae playing bass

June 2012, when I had no idea what I was getting into.

I still play bass at my old church, though now just on on Saturday nights, because I originally felt I was called to do so, given talent to do so, and not released from that calling when it became time to move to a new church. Plus, they apparently still need me. I confess that on some weekends, I grumble about my task. It’s my Saturday night. I have things to do. I’m not even at that church anymore. Come onnnn.

Yet I realized that if I’m honest with myself and I get over my grumble habit, playing bass there is actually a lot of fun. Most of the other musicians are “old white guys” with decades of musical experience behind them (compared to my 2 years on bass and some time on the trombone in high school), which lends itself to an easy groove and some fabulously interesting evenings. Some of the worship leaders like to rearrange well-known songs. Sometimes they show me more complex bass lines than my fingers can handle yet. One of them likes to put all the songs in the same key and just flow from one to the next, sometimes switching between two songs, often giving us little heads-up or forgetting where he wanted to go and generally making like we’re a jam band. And the band always sounds good because they have the experience to back this sort of thing up, and they’ve made me a more adaptable bass player as I’ve happily let them drag me along.

More significantly, playing bass on the worship team has made me a better worshiper. It’s too easy for me to go through the motions while I’m in the congregation, and when I first joined the team I wondered if I was good enough at worship to be qualified. But I jumped in, did my best, and learned quickly that yes, I actually can connect with God during corporate worship. It’s not even hard. And when it happens, it’s wonderful. The fullness of what I’ve learned has been nuanced and is difficult to explain in words, but it is very real and very much what I needed. The process started when I was playing on Sunday mornings, but when I was added to Saturday nights, it seemed to flow even better.

On top of that, I’ve been blessed by the recent sermon series on the book of James, which I would have missed if I were only attending my primary church right now. It’s a temporary situation, but it works beautifully. On Sundays, I get to attend the church that I believe God has made my new “church home,” be welcomed by a lot of really nice people, and get an excellent message. On Saturdays, I get to worship God with my bass guitar, be with other believers, and get another dose of the Word of God delivered in a helpful message.

And yet, I originally assumed I was only called to play bass because the church needed a bass player, and maybe I’d get to have a little fun learning bass along the way as a perk.

I think that sometimes, that is what infinite grace combined with infinite power looks like. He loves us and gives to us even when it may seem, at first glance, that He is only using us. There is nothing negative about simply being used by the God of the universe for His own good purposes, which is what makes it so unfair that even our service for others can benefit us. It can bring us joy, it can make us grow, it can edify us, it can free us, it can bring us closer to people, it can bring us closer to God.

Then again, Jesus said explicitly (Luke 6:38), “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Karma? No. Being called to service for a good God is a privilege in itself, I promise. This is extra. This is the particular flavor of seems-too-good-to-be-true that is unique to the continuous grace of God, which is one of the truest things of all.

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