Filling in the Gap

By Sheryl Madden, Volunteer Storyteller

A few years ago, I heard a message on a Sunday morning about the gap between our expectations and reality. The pastor described how we sometimes go into a situation expecting a certain outcome, but then reality hits and it’s often something we weren’t anticipating. At times, we have all had high hopes only to be disappointed. I could relate.

That scenario described my experience at finding “the perfect spot” to volunteer at Northshore that would bless both me and the church. When I arrived here, I knew my abilities and spiritual gifts, but to incorporate those into serving Jesus proved to be a challenge.

I attended Starting Point to see if there was something that came close to what I desired to do, but the options offered then were the coffee ministry, greeting, or the kids ministries. Nope, not what I had in mind. So then I began to question why God had led me to Northshore. Yes, I was growing spiritually, but I didn’t feel plugged in. I had a hunger, a need to serve, but I didn’t know how to go about the process.

I rationalized perhaps God sent my family to Northshore so my teenager had a much bigger youth group to enjoy, or maybe it was for my husband who didn’t yet know the Lord. During that year of waiting, I took other volunteer roles just to fill in my personal gap between expectation and reality.

Yes, we have expectations, and no, they may not match up with reality, but we, as Christians, have the choice of how to fill in that gap.

I admit, I contemplated leaving, finding a smaller church where my gifts, talents, and abilities could more easily be used. After all, I’d come from a small church and had thrived there, getting involved in many volunteer roles over the years. But then I heard that message about the gap, and it hit me hard. Yes, we have expectations, and no, they may not match up with reality, but we, as Christians, have the choice of how to fill in that gap. Do we do it with grumbling or do we do it with peace, knowing God’s in control and maybe He’s asking us to wait for a season?

I learned some interesting things while waiting. First and foremost, God knows exactly what He’s doing, and questioning His wisdom or His timing is usually futile. And second, when you’ve spent some time in anticipation before receiving exactly what you want, it’s better than if you had gotten it right away. You cherish it more, enjoy it more—like a kid who begged for a new bicycle for months and finally got one as a birthday present.

Happily, I did end up with my sought-after volunteer role, working behind the scenes to edit many of the church’s communications. I wish I could say that my year of waiting was filled with the peace that a mature Christian can display, but that’s not what happen. Now, however, my grin stretches from ear to ear. And yes, it was worth the wait.

In a recent message, Wolfgang talked about how the result of mission is JOY. When you are doing the work God created you to do, there is joy. It’s fun, and fulfilling, and His people are content. There’s growth and excitement when you’re passionate about what you’re doing for the Kingdom.

What has God equipped you to do? How is He calling you to volunteer? Or is He telling you to wait while you’re searching for that role? If it’s the latter, take some advice from one who has been there. Relax. Eventually He will call you to the exact spot He designed just for you.

Test drive a volunteer opportunity to find out what’s best for you.


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