By Katie Helmreich

Enthusiasm! Dream big dreams! Do big things! Go, fight, win! Be AMAZING!!! There are days when we can do enthusiasm with all the cartwheels and exponential exclamation points! Inspiration flows, opportunities open, and we charge ahead to serve the Kingdom! 

It’s incredible to be part of big things! But most tasks we’re called to do are less than novel or interesting. The pep in our step slows to a plod. Our focus on following slips off toward a flight of fancy. Enthusiasm wanes. Exclamation points wink out, doused by dirty dish water.

“Stay excited about your faith as you serve the Lord.” Romans 12:11 (NIRV)

I’ve been invited to contribute a piece of artwork for a prayer walk project at St. Lorenz, in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Each station on the walk invites participants to pray using Scripture and themed prompts as they follow a trail. My artwork is to illustrate Enthusiasm, based on Romans 12:11-12

I had ideas swirling and a couple of unexpected hours free, so I dove in! I sped through the planning because I could feel the precious minutes slipping through my fingers. It began okay, but before long it all started to fall apart. I got interrupted at the worst possible moments. I got bumped and jostled when precision mattered most. 

I got angry. Furious with myself for setting my expectations so high. Irritated with my family for needing me when all I wanted was the freedom to do something else. It was a train wreck. 

I was trying to serve. Why did it go so badly?

“Stay excited about your faith as you serve the Lord. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful.” Romans 12:11-12 (NIRV)

The next morning, I did some reevaluating.

I know I’m called to serve right here, right now. For the time being, I don’t often have several hours together to work on any one thing. I serve the Lord here in my family in small ways throughout the day. I also find that the extra little bits of time in between add up, especially if I can be purposeful about them. 

What if serving with enthusiasm isn’t about going all in or pedal to the metal? What if it’s more about following Him and embracing serving in the midst of where I am? What if staying excited about my faith while serving the Lord is less about being excited for what *I* can do, and more about rejoicing in what HE is doing through me? What if being excited about my faith while serving is actually the result of witnessing the incredible ways He is using all the bits and pieces of my life to reveal His glory? 

Instead of anger at a lack of freedom, by faith I have hope and joyful certainty that He will work in and through me. When I feel stuck, by faith I find the Spirit grants patience and growth.

So I began again. 

I sketched while I drank my coffee and set it aside, coming back and tweaking it a bit after cleaning up breakfast. I folded some laundry and started painting. I worked in tiny, colorful, bite size pieces. I played injured puppy, painted, intervened in a squabble, painted, folded more laundry, painted, made lunch, painted… 

Gradually, over a couple days, the painting came to life! Each piece helping to tell the story of a heart on fire for Jesus. Colors and seemingly random shapes reveal the cross and empty tomb. Just as the Spirit reveals God’s glory and love by shining His light through our everyday service. 

It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn again and again. I’m so grateful for the sanctifying work of the Spirit in my heart! I’ll have opportunities to go all-in, full speed ahead at some point. For now, I’ll serve enthusiastically in bite-sized pieces, confident that He uses them all, even the dishwater-colored bits! I often feel like I’m going in a million directions. But I rejoice knowing that, through this gift of faith by the Spirit, His cross and empty tomb will be revealed in it all!

“Now to Him who is able to strengthen you… To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Christ Jesus! Amen.” Romans 16:25, 27

I included words from the hymn, “How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord” as I journaled in Romans 16 back on Mother’s Day 2018, another of many occasions when I’ve learned this lesson. Read more in my blog, Jesus at the Center of My Messy Life.

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