MOVING FROM BURDENSOME OBLIGATION TO JOYFUL SERVICE
By Arianna McGowen
As part of a school assignment in 7th grade, I looked up the origin/meaning of my name. I laughed at the sight of words like “very holy” and “set apart” because those words could not have been farther from describing my 12-year-old self. It was not until I met Jesus in 8th grade that He would begin to heal me, change me, and invite me to live life a better way. The way He intended. A way in which holy and set apart could be true descriptions of me.
Because my life has changed dramatically since becoming a daughter, it is easy for me to give credit to Him for all the beauty in my life. If God did not get ahold of me when He did, my life would be the epitome of every evil thing. Knowing the extent from which I have been saved has always made me motivated to serve God. I believe when you can remember your life before Christ, and when you can remember all he has healed and changed in you, realizing how much you have been saved from, you not only gain energy to serve Him but you have grace, patience, and love for those who are not in Christ yet (Psalm 77:11/Ephesians 2:12).
As someone who operates best when having a clear understanding of rules, requirements, and expectations, I have found great security in learning what my role as a daughter in Christ looks like. Knowing what is expected of me has helped keep me from becoming derailed and distracted by the world. Knowing the way I am called to operate gives me a way to stay healthy, through measuring myself and properly aligning what is off. Going into High School I couldn’t dismiss the fact that I knew God required me to live as: a light, holy, set apart, a foreigner, a reflector of Jesus, and as someone living in the world but not of it. In no way did I walk perfectly because of my apprehension, but I knew that I could not live polluted/defiled AND as a light. I knew I had to pick one.
Choosing to serve God and live as a light meant choosing the narrow road talked about in Matthew 7. Choosing the narrow path is not easy, glamorous, or popular. I quickly realized that choosing the narrow path was challenging, heavy, restraining, lonely, and difficult. It was heavy to carry the weight High School entailed on its own (AP classes, sports, friendships, home life, etc.) but even heavier when adding the weight of what it meant to live for Jesus (being intentional with people, leading Christian clubs, seeking the lost, being responsible for souls, living as an example to non-believers, etc.). It was heavy, and hard, and burdensome. I messed up countless times. I sometimes adopted the Israelite mindset of feeling like life would be so much easier without God leading me (Exodus 16:3) because there would be less to worry about if I focused on “me” instead of “the world”.
To any of my sweet sisters who can relate to this and need a refreshed vision for serving Him, the answer might be simpler than you think. For me, it was found in the first and greatest umbrella commandment Matthew 22:37 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. What the Lord showed me after much frustration was that I only ever felt the weight of serving God when I operated out of task, chore, checklist, and obligation. It was in the moments of feeling genuine love from, and for Jesus, that my load was not overwhelming or heavy. Serving God and feeding his sheep became a response to the love I felt for Him.
The amount of weight did not change (in fact, it most often grew) but the weight I knew to be so heavy felt impeccably light when I loved God wholeheartedly and did things out of His strength and not my own. I knew that knowing Him and loving Him needed to be my motivation for action because I burnt out easily doing things for personal rewards, approval, and progress. Because I loved Jesus, I wanted others to know him too. Because I feared him, and cared about what pleased his heart, it was easier to say no to sin. Because I loved God, I loved his people and ministered to them. When God was not honored, I couldn’t help but speak up. When God was offended, I became offended. Because I loved God, I wanted to imitate Him. Because I loved Him, it brought me great joy to seek and care for the lost. Because I focused on Him and not myself, I could hear his voice lighten the load by telling me sweet things like “loneliness is normal and healthy, because you are picking a road not many choose. A road that leads to life” and “I love you so much. Let me carry your burdens. Lay them before me. Rest.”
When you feel yourself getting tired, I pray you rest in Him more. When you feel yourself getting dry and plateauing, I pray you chase after His love harder. He is pleased in seeing us operate out of love instead of our own agenda. He enjoys filling us up and carrying our weight when we choose the narrow road leading to life in Him. He delights in us when we give up the things of the world for the pure sake of knowing Him. And it brings Him great joy when we advance His kingdom out of daughtership instead of servantship. When we live in such a way that declares, “As a daughter, I want to advance His Kingdom. Not because I know it is asked of me, but because I love him. Because I am an heir. And because it is my Kingdom too!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Arianna McGowen and I am 17-years-old. It is upon attending The Father’s House that I began a relationship with Christ when I was 13. I went to Escondido High School my freshman through junior year and graduated from Bayshore this year. God has gifted my heart with a passion to establish justice and righteousness for those who are oppressed (Isaiah 61). Because of that, my hope is to go to Law School and work towards becoming a Lawyer. As for now, I am looking forward to being a part of the next class of Immersion here at TFH.