Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Cup of Water, a Couch, and a Chicken Wrap

It so good when a plan comes together. Almost three years ago when we finally moved into the home we are in now, I remember struggling with God about it. It was a nice, two-story American home, spacious and comfortable. Since 1985 I have lived in "the whatever-was-available-house" in the countries and towns that God sent our family to minister. Concrete floors, rought, tile floors, even marble floors (in the house we lived in Jamaica for two years) has always been the norm. Now I'm finding myself in a home with carpet and wooden floors, glass windows (not just screen as I have been used to for years), and ample and adequate bathroom facilities. (Remind me to scan a picture in one day about "the pink house" and the bathroom in that house -- be prepared because it's graphic!)

So, here I find myself in a home far beyond what I would ever had imagined for me. When I said that I struggled with God about moving into this wonderful house, it was two-fold: first, I could just hear the verbal and nonverbal statements from Christian friends and acquaintances when coming to my home for the first time ("Boy, I should be a missionary" or "How can missionaries live like this?") and secondly, it just didn't "feel right" for a missionary like myself to be living "in the lap of luxury" while my colleagues in other countries were living in less than ideal homes. That's called misplaced guilt and that just doesn't cut it in God's world.

He has so patiently taught me that He is the one who gives and takes away (blessed be His name) and it is not my place to say who should live where. While he was teaching me this principle, I was looking for homes in this beautiful metropolitan city in the south. After looking at smaller but nice homes, God kept bringing me to a neighborhood that I had driven through, but would never allow myself to stop in and seriously consider. Five months and 37 houses later, I walked into this home and breathed slowly and surely for the first time in those five months. It was perfect and God's spirit sealed it in my spirit. But then through the wisdom of a friend, God revealed to me that this house was going to be potentially the biggest tool in our new campus ministry -- and it has been. A tool of ministry. After losing two homes, household goods, cars, and even ministries in the past 15 years due to civil unrest in West Africa, that is one thing that is clear to me. Everything we own -- or think we own -- is not really ours. And it is all given to us to be used for His glory.

This home has seen literally hundreds of college students come through its doors in the past three years. It has hosted game nights, Thanksgiving feasts, Bible studies, counseling sessions, hangin' out times, and cooking classes. Monthly meals have been served in its kitchen for our campus ministry and numerous students from approximately twelve different countries has sit on its furniture. It breaths comfort, warmth, and -- I pray -- Christ's love.

So last week, close to midnight, when A- had packed up her dorm room and was bringing back some of Jeff's tools she had used, we whisked her in, fixed her a bed on the soft, well-worn leather couch, gave her a chicken wrap and some juice, talked and prayed with her, and then let her get a few hours of sleep before she headed home for the summer -- it wasn't a surprise that it felt exactly like the right thing to do.

And now since another student is having to find another place to live within the next three weeks, and that might be pushing it with her budget and all right now, it's not a surprise to offer her a room until she can find just the right roommate and apartment.

Put in the right perspective, any tool, anything in our possession can be used to bless others. Ah! I'm so thankful that I accepted this wonderful house from God and that it has been a blessing to many, many people!

Yes, Heavenly Father, it's good when we allow your perfect plans to come together!!