Thanksgiving volunteers


Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, nursing homes receive more visitors. Soup kitchens get more volunteers. Christmas charities collect more gifts.

And that’s good. All good.

Some people are once-a-year volunteers because that’s all they have time for, or because opportunities are more visible then, or because they desire to help in special ways during those seasons.

All good reasons.

Yet one of the beautiful things about being a once-a-year volunteer is that it can lead to more.

Sometimes dipping a toe into new waters entices you to see if a full swim might be even more fulfilling. Then one thing leads to another, and before you know it, you’ve uncovered a surprising new calling that was never a surprise to God at all.

I’m a toe-dipper. I don’t want to commit to anything until I’ve tried it out first. Sometimes for a long while. I was a Thanksgiving-only helper for several years at a local rescue mission. Then a twice-a-year volunteer at Manna House. But now I believe in the work so much that I want to be there every week.

My only explanation for that desire is the grace of God, not because I’m nice and not because I’m particularly needed. The “good works” I offer the poor each week aren’t that great.

I know God doesn’t need my good works either. Sure, he wants me to help the needy, but not just because they need help—but because I need help, too.

Not only on special holidays. Or twice a year. Or even once a week.

I need God’s help—and God’s heart—every day.

And if caring more about the poor will turn my heart more toward his, then I thank him for that grace.

As we each dip our toes in different things this Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for new opportunities God might be leading us to, not just on Thanksgiving, or a special holiday, but any day, every day.

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16 thoughts on “Thanksgiving volunteers

  1. Dianna

    You are such an incredible blessing to me, Lisa. I know you and I have talked about this before…you went on with being the toe-dipper and beyond. I am sorry to say that I’ve not yet even dipped my toe…as much as I have desired to do so. Pray with me that God will show me where it is He wants me to test the waters?

  2. Mary

    I echo Dianna, you are a blessing to me too. I don’t volunteer at rescue missions or food pantries….thank you for giving me the idea of being a toe-dipper. That would be a good way for me to start!

    1. Lisa notes...

      But if everyone were helping at the rescue missions and food pantries, there’d be no standing room for those seeking help there. ha. God spreads his ministries around on purpose, and we dip our toes in among different pools of water. I know God is using you where you are, Mary!

  3. floyd

    One thing leads to another… It’s honorable when they lead to His will. I’m with you, “I need help too.” Humility unlocks our hearts for our Father’s will.

    1. Lisa notes...

      Sometimes I think it all comes back to humility…. I like your phrasing that it “unlocks our hearts”. It’s impossible to accept his grace without humility, and his grace is what we’re all in need of. Thanks for your insights, Floyd.

  4. Kadi

    Hi, Lisa!

    “I know God doesn’t need my good works either. Sure, he wants me to help the needy, but not just because they need help—but because I need help, too.” – this is Gold! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! I know what you mean about toe-dipping. I have done plenty of that. But sometimes it’s good to check things out and see what you really feel called to do. Someone just told me that it seems like I volunteer for something for a year, and then leave.

    At first I was kind of hurt, but you know, it’s really true. I find out what I like and what’s not the best thing. So toe-dipping is ok sometimes, at least for me. But it can lead to life-long volunteer opportunities. I have been involved in overnight shelters for the homeless for over 12 years. That was something that spoke to me!

    Thoughtful post today, Lisa. Thank you!

    1. Lisa notes...

      You make a great point, Ceil: if something isn’t the right fit, we don’t need to blindly stick with it just because. There might be something else we need to be doing, but if we kept holding on to the old things, we’d never discover the new. I’ve been known to hold on too long to the old when I should have released my grip years ago…. 12 years helping the homeless–that’s fantastic. I’m sure you’ve established quite a few relationships.

  6. Dave Arnold

    Good stuff, Lisa. I like this quote: “And if caring more about the poor will turn my heart more toward his…” I have found that so true. If God’s heart is for the poor (I think there is some 400 or so verses about the poor in the Bible), than so should ours. Happy Thanksgiving!

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