Saved to Serve
A reflection by Emily Shaw, a member of our Product Design Team
“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
Serving God is something so important. It allows us to display our dedication and commitment to God. In all capacities–from teaching Sunday School to singing in the choir, from preaching His Word to even serving lunch to the congregation–everyone has the same intention: to praise and glorify God. In response to our salvation and redemption through Jesus, we seek to serve and live like Christ on Earth to invite and welcome others and make His name known.
From my mom’s baby shower to me graduating high school, I’ve grown up in the same church all my life. Throughout this time, serving my church just seemed like a given. I would dish out lunch, help out in daycare, and volunteer in outside communities and organizations as a representative of my church. My attitude towards service changed, however, when I was given an opportunity to serve Him more front and center.
In high school, I was asked to play the piano for service. Not for the children’s worship or early in the morning to entertain those few who arrived early, but for the main worship service. Being given this chance to serve God, I should’ve seized this opportunity in a heartbeat.
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”” Isaiah 6:8
But I hesitated. And I definitely didn’t yell out “Here am I! Send me.” I didn’t understand why others weren’t stepping up to the plate. There were plenty of people older than me, more mature in their faith, and a LOT better at playing the piano than I was. This doubt made me cower at the idea of being on display for everyone to see and judge me if I made a mistake or didn’t live up to the expectations set by the previous pianist. On top of that, I had a lot on my plate already with studying, sports, and other extracurriculars. Reluctantly, I did agree to be a temporary pianist until they found a permanent replacement. But throughout the few months I served, I felt like a fraud. I had an underlying unwillingness to serve Him because I told myself that I just “didn’t have the skills” and “I didn’t have the time” to “properly” serve God. This weakened my resolve. I felt like I had disappointed God. I felt unworthy to stand by Him. I felt like an embarrassment to Him…
Instead of trusting God and the opportunity He presented, I trusted myself and thought that I wasn’t good enough to serve Him. That mindset affected my relationship with Him and made me think that He no longer needed or wanted me as His servant.
This attitude continued and ate away at my faith even when I graduated from high school and moved out-of-state to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Even though I continued to attend church and seek out fellowships, I felt like an impostor–out of place and unworthy of standing next to my fellow brothers and sisters. Alongside this downward spiral in my faith, I was also struggling academically. I was trying to find out what I wanted to pursue a career in, moving through different disciplines, until I stumbled upon design. Having no experience, the learning curve was steep, but I was willing to dedicate all of my time and effort to this newly discovered passion, something that I could only afford to God on Sundays and occasional morning devotionals. But God truly loves us unconditionally and wants to draw us closer to Him.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
Not by sheer luck, but by His will, I came across YHWH Apparel’s recruitment post and applied to be a member of the design team. In creating apparel designs and marketing graphics, I felt so grateful to God that He had not given up on me, but could use me to strengthen His presence on campus and to introduce Him to others. With our deteriorating relationship, God had reached His hand out to help me in my time of need and to lead me back to Him.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
I am so unworthy and undeserving of His love and grace, and yet he continues to provide and watch over me. I have no doubt in my mind that He does have a plan for each of us and truly works in ways that we cannot see or even begin to comprehend. This was made apparent to me during a physics final. Nervous and stressed, I scrambled to review my notes and looked up to find that the student in front of me was wearing the YHWH hoodie my team and I had designed that semester (“Run with Endurance”). A sense of calmness and peace of mind washed over me as I realized that there was no cause for worry. God is sovereign. He is all-knowing and ever-present and every aspect of our lives are cared for and loved on by Him. I felt so humbled by God’s grace and mercy. I was and am so thankful to be able to serve Him and enable others to boldly carry His name.
Looking back on my experience as a pianist for my church, I wasn’t ready to serve. It was not because of how I compared to others in faith or in playing the piano (trust me, I was pretty bad) but because I was using these excuses to hide my unwillingness to dedicate time to Him, putting my needs and wants above His. Ultimately, I was using these excuses to hide the lack of trust I had in God and His plans for me.
In hindsight, I regret not trusting in God and His plans for me. I realize, now, that while I should have made more of an effort to serve Him in the past, it didn’t happen then because my heart wasn’t in the right place. Back then, I was definitely more focused on myself. If it hadn’t been for the ways that God revealed Himself and His plan for me during my time in college thus far, I probably would have continued to live trusting myself more than trusting Him. He knows me so well and has revealed to me the gifts that He has given me and the ways that I am called to serve. I am thankful for Jesus and that, even in the times I feel distant and cast away by Him, He never gives up on me.