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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Job



It’s hard to admit a behavior when it doesn’t match how we’d like to present ourselves.

We read the news about climate change, see images of mountains of trash in developing countries, and hear about plastics clogging the oceans, and we join conversations, stating “We need to do more about pollution.” “I’m going to recycle more.” “We need to pay more attention to how we’re treating the Earth.” “I’m going to support environmental causes.” “We are contributing to our world’s demise.” “I’m going to be serious about my contribution to this issue.” “We need to do something together to combat this problem.”

Yet there’s a squashed water bottle right there in front of me, right there in the parking lot at Target. It looks like it’s been there for days. In seconds, I tsk tsk the person who left it there, double check that I locked my car, make sure my phone is in my purse, and step over it on my way into the store.

Not my trash, not my problem. Plus, ew. How long has it been there? Germ-riddled, dirty thing. The person whose lips touched that could have a stomach bug, strep throat, the consumption.

And in those few seconds it took me to ignore a small thing that I could do, something that wouldn’t cost me a penny or any time out of my day, I left the trash there, indifferent to the trashing of my neighborhood.

I contributed to the problem.

I didn’t do anything when I could have done something.

We are all expected to contribute to the upkeep of society. We teach our children Please and Thank You, hold doors open for each other, and shop locally to promote the neighboring economy. We agree that we all have to work together to make the world a better place.

We all have this responsibility. ALL. What do we do about it?

It’s such a big job, we say. I can’t go around picking up everyone’s trash. I’ll never get anything done! It’s too much. Someone else can do it.

As Christians we are called to bring the gospel to non-believers, and to shine God’s love and to spread his truth to everyone regardless of faith.

All Christians have this responsibility. ALL. What do we do about it?

It’s such a big job, we say. I’m not a preacher. Just because I go to church, I have to be an evangelist, too? It’s too much. Someone else can do it.

I gave up the notion of doing humongous things for God years and years ago. I realized that one in 7 billion people doesn’t have much of a chance at making a difference in the world overall, especially when my main tasks centered on meeting my family’s needs. It was a hard lesson to learn because it seemed that the expectation was to do major things in a visible way so that the maximum number of people could be reached. What are YOU doing for Jesus today? those expectations asked me, all judgmental. Um, I made dinner tonight? Why yes, it was hot dogs again. I only yelled twice, and I didn’t make a snide remark to my husband today. Do those things count? I always felt inferior when it came to serving God.

When it hit me that every single thing I do in love and for the love of God through the gifts he gave me: paying attention to his quiet whispers of encouragement, showing kindness to others, performing mundane tasks without complaint, praying for my friends and neighbors – all of those things were exactly what I was made to do.

When I realized that THIS is my job, it didn’t bother me that I was doing little things.

Like picking up one piece of someone else’s trash in the parking lot. It may sound insignificant, but it’s not my job to judge what’s important. That’s God’s job.

Sharing God’s love is my job. It doesn’t matter what that looks like.

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Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Perfect Timing

Last week I spent a week at church camp with a bunch of teenagers.

While church camp certainly isn’t my number one destination choice for a week of summer, I have to say: it wasn’t terrible.

Truthfully, it was pretty great. There were incredible speakers and music and reflection time and company and conversation and laughter everywhere you went; great doesn’t even begin to describe it, actually. It had all the elements of a good vacation anywhere: plenty of activity and relaxation time, meals that were all taken care of, a clean, dry place to sleep at night.

Yes, there was sleeping. At church camp. Maybe a first.

I wouldn’t know for sure – it was my first time.

By the time I was a teen, I had camped before, usually a night or two away. In fourth grade I went to Girl Scout horse camp that scarred me for life (my horse, Sugar, terrified me after the day she stopped to pee, pinning the toe of my boot under her enormous hoof, but who remembers details like that, never mind, I’m perfectly fine), and I vaguely recall some other camping at a very young age, but a week of church camp was off my radar by the time I was a teenager.

It’s fair to say that I was a little nervous about going to church camp as an adult – after all, it’s a little late for me – and I also wondered if I would be an awful and ineffective leader. I quickly realized that I was surrounded by people I knew who had been there at least once before and were more than willing to answer questions and explain confusing things and were nice enough not to roll their eyes in an obvious way when I asked dumb questions and couldn’t figure out the schedule.

As usual I was mentally unprepared, barely considering that I would be responsible for making sure 11 girls got to and from their various activities on time. Lucky for me my teen squad knew me already, and they were comfortable showing me the ropes when I had no idea what I was doing, and after two days of slinking in five or ten minutes late for everything on the schedule, by the third day I finally knew what was going on and was able to help them stay on track.

But the best part about church camp? God.

It’s a no-brainer that God was present at a camp specifically designed for people to bond over their faith and talk about Jesus and changed lives. It’s why we went, why parents send their kids there: to spend time away from home, for the church camp experience. To grow in their faith with others and to learn who they are according to Him away from the distractions of everyday life.

Every day, the Holy Spirit was present as tears were shed when talking about loved ones who don’t believe, listening to questions about faith, wondering what God expects from us, making decisions for the rest of our lives.

By the end of the week I had heard outrageous stories of what kids do with their friends when away from home at church camp, but I also experienced with them the outrageous love that God has for his children. It was an honor to share these experiences with all the people who were there, to serve God in a way that was a pleasure and despite what most people think, not like a sacrifice at all.

I’m so glad that I finally went to church camp. It was the perfect time.




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