Monday, September 19, 2011
Obedience, Bathrooms, Generosity and Gratitude
Last January, a few Sundays in a row, we noticed an ad in our church bulletin looking for somebody to accept a paid custodian position. We wanted to jump into this church family and serve in some capacity even though we knew our time at Broken Bow Berean was short and choppy with all of our scheduled traveling. This seemed like a perfect way to love His bride in a practical way.
Every time we opened the bulletin the ad seemed to carry a personal imperative - "YOU". Jason and I agreed, inquired and signed up but made sure they knew we didn't want to be paid. We really just wanted to serve the Church (this was a great way for us to do that) considering our circumstances.
For the most part it was a joy! By the Spirit we can sincerely say, "Yes, cleaning the bathrooms was a joy!" Our family enjoyed fun times while learning to serve together. For example after our duties at the youth center we'd take on a little ping-pong match and then off to the church. We'd race our previous times. This is how Jason roles. He is so goal oriented. So why not try to beat our last time. I'd argue, "Yeah, but we need to do it with excellence not just speed. Don't let speed rule out excellence." Back and forth we'd go. Sure, there were times we dreaded the toilet chore but it was always right. This is what God wanted us to do for this time and His life was in it. By His grace we did it full of the Spirit like Jason served tables in Acts.
Fast forward 8 months later. It is time for us to wrap up our Broken Bow chapter. Yesterday in church Pastor Larry preached about giving and receiving from Philippians chapter 4. Paul was in prison when he received a generous and unsolicited gift from the people at Philipi. They didn't give out of their abundance but cheerfully from what little they had. It was a good message.
Maybe someday we'll be self-supported. That would be fabulous. For now, though, we must be sent. It is so humbling to receive so much, often times, from others that have just enough. We are being sent by many sacrificial givers. We echo Paul in this, "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Phil 4:17, 19, 20) Giving is WAY more fun and we pray that He would deposit His fruit in your account because of your unselfishness in obedience to Him.
Okay - so yesterday during the service Pastor Larry gave us a little 'plug', "The Schmicks are leaving in less than 30 days. They are very close to their goal. Will you consider sending them and pray them out of town - out of the country." It was super nice of him.
Honestly, there aren't enough words to express how kind Broken Bow and the church community has been. We just groan with gratitude and exhale prayer, "Lord, please reward these openhanded people." We expected nothing from anybody when we moved here. These people didn't know us at all. We fully planned to just attend church, serve the best we could and wait out our time here. But God! BUT GOD! (Two of the best words together).
Okay, okay...I keep going off on a trail. If you're still reading this and tracking with me - well pat yourself on the back! The reward is about to be revealed. So yesterday. At the end of the service Pastor Larry called Jason to the front. While holding back tears he thanked us and handed Jason a check made out to Christian World Outreach for our 8 months of custodian service. Their gift got us one whole percent closer to our monthly budget goal. He proceeded to give him a big Papa-Pastor-hug. I exhaled that prayer again and melted in our pew. Doesn't God's undeserved kindness take your breath away?
Wow! God there are so many things you are showing us right now. It is good to serve Him well even in the seemingly insignificant. It is good to say, "Yes!", to God at every twist and turn in the journey even if we don't understand. God doesn't owe us anything and yet He faithfully rewards the obedient heart. Cleaning the church was the imperative He made us able to obey.
You are faithful God. You are good! You are working. All glory to Your Name!