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How do we balance the needs of our writing careers, our families, and our call to serve Christ in the church and in the wider community? All are part of our calling. All are important. All are commanded. How can we seek balance in this?

I suffer from a chronic autoimmune disease. During these past four years of sickness, God has used this illness for great good in my life. He has refined me, opened my eyes increasingly to the intimacy of His nearness, and introduced me to an unseen world, one I had only vaguely recognized.

This is the world of the homebound or sick, the ones people have forgotten.

If we look around in our churches or communities, if our eyes are truly open and our hearts fully aware, we will recognize that people we know are missing. We used to see them regularly, but now they are gone. No announcement was made. They merely slipped away. Why?

When I sought answers, I learned that these were at home with long-term challenges. Some were chronically ill. Others were now caring for a family member in a similar situation. For some, old age had caught up with them and it was impossible to drive or to navigate getting in and out of church. Maybe a tragedy had derailed everything.

And there are needs in our wider communities. Organizations that do good are understaffed. All are seeking volunteers. Perhaps the county needs people for the refugee welcome program. Maybe Meals on Wheels has a need. Your local prison is always seeking help. The harvest is always plentiful, but the labors are always few.

In my mostly homebound state, I came to realize the deep love the Savior has for the sick, the isolated, the unseen. He sees us clearly. His fellowship and supporting grace and mercy have upheld me in ways I had never experienced before I became confined.

Simultaneously, I came to learn how even a short visit or a small act impacts the sufferer. A one-hour visit from a friend brightens an entire week. An offer to vacuum and dust my home lifts me up for a whole month! Even now, a year later, it still warms my heart. A message on Facebook, a drop-by visit to leave flowers, the offer of a meal–all of these are extremely powerful in the life of the lonely.

Now, here’s the tricky part: Application. Given all the needs, how do we balance our jobs, our call to write, our families, and our wider call to serve?

We learn to say, “No.” And, we learn to say, “Yes.”

For me, learning to say, “No,” was extremely difficult. I’m a people pleaser at heart. My over-commitment and workaholic tendencies led right into my collapse and my chronic illness. God allowed that experience to teach me to say, “No.” Once that was in place, He began to open my eyes to times I should still say, “Yes,” even though I’m ill.

I’m learning to listen to the gentle urging of the Holy Spirit.

When someone or something is on your mind frequently, when there’s a soft, tender, but recurring nudge toward a person or a need, God is speaking. Learn to hear His voice. Open your eyes to the opportunity to act. It will come. And when it does, act.

Ask Jesus for help. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Simply do it. Maybe it’s praying. Maybe it’s going. Then wait for future urging, and do it again. The Lord will keep it all in balance, and you will fulfill your calling.

Go forth and love others. Follow the Savior.