At 24 years old, I found myself settling for a job that felt safe, yet what I really longed for was adventure. When a college friend, who worked on Wall Street, told me his firm was hiring, I quickly moved from Toronto to New York City to work for an investment bank. The energy on the trading floor was amazing, the environment was competitive, and the measure of success was how much money you could make. I was determined to succeed, so I worked long hours. My identity became so tied up in the job and reputation of the firm that I ignored the nagging feeling that this was not what I was created to do.
I kept up the fast pace for a few years, but jumped at the opportunity to resign when my husband, Bill, and I decided to start a family. His career took us to Charlotte, NC—another city far from anything or anyone familiar to us. Looking back, starting over in a new place turned out to be God’s way of removing our distractions so he could get our attention.
Everyone in Charlotte seemed to want to know if we had found a church. Neither of us had spent much time in church so we didn’t know why this mattered. Reluctantly, we agreed to go to church with one of Bill’s colleagues and his family to prevent any awkwardness at work for Bill. He promised me this would be a “one and done” experience.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
The pastor preached on the Ten Commandments, starting with the first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me. He asked if anyone had made money their god, and I knew he was speaking to me. The message resonated with our hearts in a way that drew us back week after week. Eventually, I decided that if I wanted to go deeper, I needed to join a small group.
God used the women in that small group to help me grow in my faith, which opened up a new world of adventure. My life really did change on the day I went with a woman who loved to serve in her community, to an area of Charlotte known for gangs and violence.
“I possessed everything the world said was valuable, and yet I was discontent and lost.” – Jen Cameron, Local Missions Pastor
We pulled up to the house of a blind widow raising three children on her own. There were bullet holes in the siding and broken glass in many of the windows. The inside was a mess. As we cleaned her home, put new sheets on beds, and filled her refrigerator, we talked to the woman about her life and learned of tragedies she had experienced. Despite all she’d been through, she still had peace, joy, and a love for Jesus. It made no sense to me based on what I knew of her circumstances.
Giving It To God
Later that afternoon, I sat alone in my bedroom. I possessed everything the world said was valuable, and yet I was discontent and lost. But this woman, who had nothing, actually possessed something that was priceless. Right there in my bedroom, I gave my life to Jesus and asked him to help me find purpose in my life. I had spent 29 years searching for that purpose, and it wasn’t until I trusted God with my life that I found why he created me.
Through daily Bible reading, I realized that serving others was extremely important to God. Jesus chose to spend time with people who were in pain, sick, or on the fringe of society. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says that when we feed the hungry, give a drink to someone who is thirsty, clothe the naked, provide shelter to the homeless, care for the sick, and visit those in prison, we do it for him. Jesus wants us to live lives of compassion through serving others. When we slow down, and share in someone’s pain, it connects us to one another and opens the opportunity to point people to Jesus.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye to someone’s pain because we feel inadequate, but God doesn’t hold us responsible for the outcome, he only asks us to love others and do what we can to alleviate people’s suffering. He takes care of the rest.
- Participate in Serve Day on July 10! People need encouragement, and they need to know the true hope found only in Jesus. Serve Day is an opportunity to show his love to a hurting world through intentional acts of kindness!
- Incorporate serving into your small group or family rhythm. Check out Local Missions for community partners who are doing great work. Serve with them.