Just when I feel like I have God's perspective on my life He has more to teach me. Praise Him!
Recently I was studying Abraham and Sarah. God made them a promise and they waited on his timing. I wondered to myself if I had ever felt God give me a clear purpose and then not see it happen for awhile. Nothing came to mind. I thought of friends though who have been given a heart to be parents and conceiving hasn't come easily. I can't speak for the many I have known, but I would imagine somehow, someway they felt God telling them just to wait. I have known a few people who have been called to be missionaries. They hear God's promise and then are asked to wait for him to fulfill it. There is peace found in Jehovah-shalom. When God makes a promise, he always keeps it.
The trouble is we get restless. We sit around here on earth wondering if there is anything we can do to fulfill the promise. We meddle and get in the way of his plan. If he has made us a promise do we trust he will fulfill it?
A couple weeks ago I felt God firmly planting a new desire in my heart. He opened my eyes to a need that I could fulfill.
It started with trash lining the side of the road. It was driving me crazy. With all this business of counting gifts, I started noticing garbage everywhere I looked while out walking the dog. At first I got frustrated. Does no one else see this? What is with the county? Aren't people paid to clean up the roadside? And what is with society? Why does it suddenly seem like EVERYONE is trashing God's creation?
It wasn't long until I realized other people weren't seeing it. I brought it up to friends and they seemed unaware. Or maybe the trash had always been there and I had just never noticed it before. God showed me the trash for a reason. In a still small voice one day I heard him say,
"Why don't YOU clean it up?"
Huh? Me, Lord? Are you sure? Why me? I am counting your gifts Lord. I am appreciating your grace on my life. That is a job made for someone else.
I have eyes. I have hands. I see a need in the path I am walking down in this life. Why do I think it isn't my job? Am I a Jonah?
One night during a family walk I brought along a shopping bag. My Love pushed the kids in the stroller and held B's leash. I allowed myself to be an instrument. No credit. No personal glory. Just making myself available to be used. God showed me a need and I made it my job.
Around that same time, I saw a 30-minute news show about hunger in America. It really tugged on my heart creating a passion I had never known. It highlighted the working poor in this economy who have full time jobs and can't afford to feed their families. The kids on the show talked about how hungry they are all the time. I thought about how crabby I get if I miss a snack. I can't imagine trying to sit in the classroom and learn something. A mom stood in her kitchen buttering toast then sprinkling each slice with cinnamon. "Eat your dinner," she said to the five kids sitting around the table.
My face dropped. Toast? For dinner? I wept. Suddenly I realized how blind I have been to the needs of others. People God has literally put into the path of my life that I have walked right by on my way to serving God. I grieve over the countless opportunities I could have been used for.
We are constantly teaching our son to think beyond himself. To put others first. In this world of suffering people, was I really keeping my head down and convincing myself that the loaves and fishes I have been blessed with wouldn't even come close to meeting the needs of the masses? That is a job for someone else.
Soon after that show aired, I opened the local events newspaper, and God showed me the perfect opportunity to serve him in the passion he had given me. A program that meets once a month to bag backpacks with food to send home with kids over the weekend. Yes! It was like God wrote it in the paper that day just for me. I looked at the date. They had met that morning. Bummer.
I contacted the group to find out how we (and friends of ours) could get more involved. We wanted to serve. We saw the need and felt able to meet it. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to show our son how to think beyond himself. They said he was too young. For a week I tried to figure out a way for me to go to the next bagging meet without the kids (it is scheduled on an early weekday morning). It just didn't look like it was going to work out. I casually mentioned to A maybe he could take off work. Something was lost in translation. He didn't get the memo.
Wednesday night the bad mood started. I couldn't understand. I felt like God planted this ministry in my heart and now I wasn't able to do it. I started resenting A for not seeing how important it was to me. Why wasn't he helping me work out the details? Had I ever been so excited about serving God in any other way before?
And that is when it hit me. I was still making it about me. Why had I let myself build up expectations that couldn't be met? Hadn't I learned anything?
I know this isn't infertility or entering into full-time missions, but after a good tantrum I thanked God for not letting it work out. He planted this purpose in me to serve others for a reason. He will fulfill that promise in his timing according to his plan. It is my job wait.
In the meantime, family walks will always include shopping bags. Items will be added to our monthly grocery list that can be donated to our church's food closet. The purging of excess stuff around here is underway. Do I really need so many backup towels and blankets when someone else could really use them?
God has given us eyes and hands to serve him at any given moment. Who am I to decide what that looks like? Use me Lord. Anytime, anywhere. Help me think beyond myself. Show me what I can give up to meet the real needs of others for your glory.