Is there anything that you cannot live without? Something that, were you to lose it or not have it, your life would feel hollow? Something that, once you have experienced it and lived with it, you simply cannot give up? What is so intrinsic to who you are that you absolutely need it in order to live your life?
Selflessness – now that I have tasted it, I can’t forget it; I crave it. The longing to be selfless, to serve, and to minister to others is what drives me. I desire to live for something lasting, something bigger than myself, bringing the culture of heaven to the earth and revealing the kindness of the Father’s heart. I have learned it, lived it, and loved it. Wherever I can go, whatever I can do – I want to take every opportunity to serve. Compelled by love – it feels as natural as breathing (2 Cor. 5:14-19). It is not easy; sometimes passion hurts. But through it all the craving remains. Living in Africa, being a missionary kid and a pastor’s daughter, being head-over-heels in love with Jesus – I am ruined for life and so ready for the here-and-now of eternity, the fullness of heaven invading the earth. Nothing else will satisfy. Crave.
Caught in the Westernized idea of Christianity that often (though perhaps unintentionally) advocates a go-big-or-go-home lifestyle, I used to believe that ministry and service had to create sweeping change. I used to believe that I had to do something “big” and that only something big could be worthwhile in God’s kingdom. It wasn’t that I consciously believed it; it was more like a disquiet deep within my spirit about the value and nature of ministry – but no more. Now I am content to be the one who makes “little” change, one person at a time – and each of those lives will touch another life, and each of those yet another – until a cycle of change becomes sustainable at the deepest levels. Crave. Every person who is blessed by my writing, who hears the voice of God and feels His presence through my words and actions – it is both more than enough and only the beginning. Crave.
Every moment there are possibilities, choices, and opportunities, and I long to live a life that takes full advantage of all of those moments. I desire to live a life of selfless service. Crave. I want my passion for God and for people to be part of my legacy – and legacies begin in the quiet, “little” moments. Legacies aren’t something that simply happen after you die; legacies are built as you take the day-to-day opportunities to make the right choice. Crave. I want to seek out and eagerly embrace opportunities to serve, whether they are menial, prestigious, or just plain difficult. Why? Because I don’t know how to live any other way. I can’t resist the craving for a life that is more than myself, more than the comfort of the moment. Life is most beautiful when it is lived selflessly. Crave.
I’d like to say I take every opportunity to serve – I don’t always do that, but I’d like to. As I mentioned in “Open My Eyes,” ministry is seeing needs and meeting them. It is a way of viewing life that allows you to see ministry opportunities to bring Truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ into any and every situation. I know that not every will agree with my simple definition of ministry; I know all the arguments about definitions, duties, and ministry as a vocation. I know that it is important to consider the specific gifts and dreams that God has placed within me. But when I look at the life of Jesus Christ, I see a Man who poured out the relentless love of our Heavenly Father by noticing and meeting needs, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. The ministry of Jesus sparked that cycle of sustainable, soul-deep change that we often strive to begin on our own. The truth is that we don’t need to create change; we need to spread change by serving selflessly, leaving the rest to God’s Holy Spirit, who dwells within us and leads us to repentance. Crave.
Service is not about “doing more,” earning grace or recognition, or completing a duty. It is about living wholeheartedly. Selflessness is not something you merely “do,” like reading a book or taking a shower. Rather, it is a way you live your life that becomes a part of who you are. That’s when the craving happens. As the selfless love of Christ is indelibly etched into your soul, you come to the point where you can’t imagine living your life in any other way. Crave. I throw myself fully into everything I do because I only know how to live whole-heartedly. To live as Christ lived is to live selflessly:
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” — Philip. 2:4-8 ESV
Over the holidays I spent lots of time hanging out with good friends. As we gathered after ice skating one night, we found that one of our group was missing. When someone questioned where he was, my brother pointed and said, “Oh, he’s over there praying for someone. That’s just how he is – he’s cool like that.” When the craving runs deep, the loving and serving come naturally. Crave. Is that “just how we are”? Is that the lifestyle we pursue? Are those the people we choose to build relationships with, people who crave nothing more than to live whole-heartedly, fully abandoned in the love of Christ? That is the kind of woman I want to be, and those are the kind of friends I want to have around me. Crave.
To give freely, serve joyfully, obey willingly, and love fully – I crave to live out the culture of heaven on the earth. I admit, I am addicted. The craving is what gets me up in the mornings with a song in my heart. It’s what makes me want to spend hours listening to and laughing with the girls in my dorm. It’s what gets me up in the night to tend to sick friends or care for my little sister. It’s why I carried someone else’s luggage in addition to my own the entire length of a train when I saw she was weary. It’s why I weep with longing for Africa, my heart breaking with desire to go back to the place my heart loves. It’s what makes me eagerly seek out opportunities to serve and do ministry – to meet any need I can. It’s why I’m sitting here late at night, writing when my heart is overflowing with words that I don’t want to lose. I want every part of my life to reflect the nature of my God. In the craving are depths of passion and the love of the Father’s heart that I have only just begun to discover. Crave. This is why I do what I do and why I am who I am. When the craving becomes part of who you are, other ways of living become hollow until, eventually, they fade into nothingness. When we allow the culture of heaven to define our lifestyle, the selfishness of our sin nature that once bound us no longer has any authority to control us. Through the precious blood of Christ we are empowered to live selflessly – but more than that, we are empowered to live selflessly with joy.
And so, my dear friends, what do you crave? Are you ready to respond to His call to live whole-heartedly? Are you ready for Him to wreck your life with the craving for the kingdom-culture of heaven?
“For though I am free from men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more…I have become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake….” — 1 Cor. 9:19, 23 NKJV