What was a great idea now seemed to be just another thing to do in our busy schedule. Our small group had decided to volunteer for an outreach project. We would drive to the inner city, meet at a church whose home was an old warehouse and package food for a developing country.
My husband arrived home after a long day at work. We looked at each other with that same sense of weariness, just wanting to stay home and exhale after an exhausting day. But we hopped in the car and headed downtown.
We pulled up to the old building and entered through the side door. There were two tables with bags of grains, measuring cups and a small scale. The staff person led us over to our workstations and assigned us each a task. Within minutes, we were working in rhythm with praise music blaring in the background.
After about two and a half hours of work, we looked at how many boxes of food we had prepared. Each of us had paid $20 for the food we packaged. Each volunteer gave about four hours of our time. And our little investment provided more than 3,000 meals to hungry people!
On the way home, my husband and I talked about the multiplication factor. We had given so little and that little had accomplished so much. My husband and I were no longer weary from a long day. We left energized and deeply convicted to live with the awareness of the needs around us. And we felt closer as a couple.
What does it mean for married couples to give a sacrifice of love? Look around and you will find that most marriages are stressed out and overcommitted. We all get so busy that it's hard to find time to serve or invest in people in a significant way. And yet this is what we are called to do.
Christian couples have something to offer, even though we feel otherwise at times. We have our hearts, our time and the wisdom God has given us from life experiences. Going into a cocoon isn't healthy for our marriage, our family or the body of Christ.
We are called to love and influence the world by helping others. Here are a few ways you can get involved in your own community and make a difference as couples:
- Join a small group. Find a common bond that draws you together, but beware of the tendency to get too exclusive with your group. Be open to new members, invite your unchurched neighbors and do outreach together. This will keep your group balanced and life-giving.
- Become a mentor to someone younger. Ask God to show you a couple or single person you can take under your wing. Have dinner with them and get to know their dreams, fears and concerns. Use the wisdom God has given you to strengthen and encourage them. When you help someone grow, you grow stronger, too.
- Engage in community service. Serve together at a food pantry. Deliver groceries to a shut-in. Visit a widow, an elderly person or a prisoner. Help a single parent by caring for her children and/or helping with house maintenance.
- Stay connected to your extended family. Be intentional about making plans with family members, and approach family get-togethers with a heart to serve and love.
- Be involved with your church family. When life gets busy, it can be tempting to disconnect, yet cutting yourselves off from the body of Christ will only hurt you.