Thursday, August 17, 2006
Strength in my Weakness
I am not a handyman. I am not even a skilled day laborer. In fact, in our work in Gulfport, many of the youth were better at the jobs that we were doing than I was. When I paint, I end up getting as much paint on me as I do on the wall—literally. So, the week we were in Gulfport I put myself I the place of a utility man. Monday I was the gopher for two groups on the trip that were sharing one van. I spent more time in the halls of 84 Lumber, Home Depot, and Lowe’s than I had the rest of my life combined. Tuesday I helped in hanging sheet rock ceiling on one site. Wednesday and Thursday I went to help paint bedrooms and clean a fridge at another site. On Monday, I had the opportunity to sing Johnny Cash songs at the top of lungs with the resident of one home named Helen. Tuesday I was standing spread eagle in backyard of Harry and Gail’s home with Harry hosing me down to get all of the paint on me that I had accumulated everywhere. Most of the time I wondered if I was more of a burden than a help on the work projects we were trying to accomplish.
On day two, the day where I had to be hosed down by Harry in his back yard, I was exhausted and discouraged as I ended my day. When the youth were asked to share where God showed up for them during the day, one of the youth shared that they had seen God at work through me, the work I was doing, and more importantly by the way that I did the work that I was doing. I was shocked. Somehow, almost because of my vulnerability and weakness, Christ was shining all the stronger.
That evening we went and visited a church in Biloxi named Prince of Peace Baptist Church. When we pulled up the church campus looked like part RV Park., part campground, with a small church building added on. The pastor went on to describe how God had used their church to be a center of mission to hundreds of children, feed thousands of people, house medical missions, and provide homes for dozens of people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He described how they had been about this ministry non-stop for about a year, and that the kinds of post-Hurricane recovery ministries still have a lot of work to do helping people who have lost everything. This pastor shared with enthusiasm miraculous stories about how God has provided in ministries that he and his church carried out. Then, as he closed in prayer, he shared something that amazed me. “Please pray for us,” he pleaded “we only have eight members and we are getting tired.” It seemed that God had used this church’s smallness, weakness, and vulnerability to do more than he or we could think or imagine as well.
All of this got me to thinking. Maybe what God needs more than fantastic skills and abilities is a servant heart, and willing hands. And maybe instead of worrying how worthy and competent we are to do the ministry set before us, we should simply make ourselves available to be used and let God handle the results.
Of course you might have to remind me of this on the next mission trip when I have a hammer or paint brush in my hand……