Friday, November 1, 2013

What Are You Waiting For?

Very excited to write this week.  As you know Jeff had to leave his full time job at the warehouse to stay home and take care of me and the kids, but he still works part time as an assistant pastor at the church- he cleans the church, does some counseling, preaches occasionally, teaches Bible study- a little bit of everything.  He came home the other day really excited and he couldn't wait to tell me why.

Jeff was in the middle of cleaning the sanctuary when two women came waking in right from the streets of Amsterdam, the town our church is located in.  They told him right off the bat that they were lesbians and that they wanted to know how they can get baptized.  Jeff spent the next hour and a half talking with these women.  They talked about everything from why Jesus died to what does God do up in heaven all day.  Jeff did not get to finish cleaning the church.

And he could think of no better way to have spent his day.

I was excited just seeing him excited.  I was excited because I remember that feeling- what it's like to meet real people.  People who do not attend church every Sunday.  People who speak very bluntly and want real answers to real questions and are not afraid to ask.  It's what I miss the most.

When I went away to Bible College after high school I had no intention of going into ministry like most of the other people there- in all fairness, it was a school of ministry.  But I was going there because I wanted to really know the Bible inside and out so that when I went out into the world I would be better equipped to help people.  The only thing I ever wanted to do was get a normal job and meet people and show them God's love.  That's it really, I had no high hopes or anything.  In fact, Jeff and I were such an odd pair because he knew he was going to be a pastor and I warned him that I was not exactly pastor's wife material- more often than not I find church to be boring and I am the one eating candy during the service and playing with random items in my pocketbook.  But we make a great team, balancing each other out.  And since we ended up having a bazillion kids, my plans changed anyway.  But before marriage and family even happened, I worked several jobs in high school and college.  I worked as a nanny, a day care worker, bank teller, Starbucks barista, etc.   I never liked playing with kids, so I didn't like those jobs, and I didn't enjoy being robbed so the bank was not my fav...but Starbucks.  THAT was the best job I ever had.

In fact, they didn't actually even want to give me the job- I had to beg for it.  I wanted that job so bad that after I applied for it I called "just to check and see if they got my application." You see, I knew that job would be a good fit for me.  I love people and I love socializing and making friends and making people feel welcome.  I loved the idea of giving free cups of coffee away- whether it be to a regular customer, or a police or military man, or just someone who look like they needed it- I knew I could make people smile and that would make me a better worker and the store a better store.  So when I called they told me they just didn't have an opening...so I asked if any other Starbucks on Long Island had an opening.  The manager said maybe another one did but he wasn't sure.  So I called again.  And again.  And then I showed up at the store in person.  Then I showed up again to which he finally said he called another manager and set up an interview with him (just to get me to stop calling and showing up I presume).  So I had the interview with this other manager who also said he had no opening but that he was told I was pretty persistent.  I then proceeded to tell him that he would not regret hiring me.

I got the job.  I wasted no time in proving him wrong.  Several weeks into my time there I had a costumer at my register.  He ordered coffee and as usual I made small talk with him, offering him something to eat and telling him what would go best with the kind of coffee he ordered (like I was trained to do).  He asked me how long I had been working there and if I liked it.  I went on and on about how wonderful it was (which it was, no lie there).  I didn't think twice about that incident because those occurrences were normal- it was everything I thought it would be.  Well a few days later my boss pulls me aside and asked if I remember that particular gentleman- turns out that man was the Starbucks regional manager and he returned specifically to commend my manager on the job I did waiting on him.  My manager said he was glad he hired me.

It was the best two years I spent.  I met so many people and was able to just love and show love.  From the moment I gave my heart to Jesus my life literally became about two things: one- loving Him and trying to become more like Him, and two: trying to love others and show them God's love.  That's it.  Period.

I dont live for anything else.  Sure, I have other things in my life that I enjoy- I like to eat candy and I love to watch movies and read books..but even when I pursue too much of other things I can feel myself being pulled away from God and I feel lost.  Everybody lives for something- and yet most people are lost.  I only feel lost when I veer away from God.  I never went searching in the world for things to fill my soul.  I suppose I am speaking out of ignorance, but if I found the answer why must I go out and prove all the wrong ones to be wrong?  It's a very common story that many of you have lived- you search the world, looking for that something to fill that void- that ache- deep within you.  Nothing quite fills it and you seem to be left with more hurts and scars and less answers.  I found Jesus at a young age.  I have never felt a void- just a full, complete peace.  And I know what my goals are- and they are very simple.

What is the point of my husband cleaning the church?  What is the point of my going out and working at Starbucks?  I guess in one sense you could say the answer is "to pay the bills."  But that's not really the answer...the reason he cleans the church is so that those women can come walking in.  The reason I served coffee was so that I could get to know people by name and bring a smile to their faces.  The Bible words it like this "I urge you, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice..." (Romans 12:1)  Living sacrifice.  Most sacrifices are killed, but we who serve God are being told to be living ones- as in, keep living but use your very life and give it up for others.  Thats our job.  I do not take it lightly.

I realize that my readership is varied.  Some of you who are reading this are Christians, some are not.  This puts me in a strange position- not because I have any plans to change the way I write, but because I am talking both to you and about you.  To the Christians, I am telling you to remember why you are here.  You are here to serve.  To love.  To live sacrificially to those around you so that maybe, just maybe they will see God through you.  To the non Christians I would say this- please do not judge God based on us.  We make mistakes, but we are trying.  I want to love you and I want you to know that God loves you but sometimes I am just having a really crappy day and I take it out on you...I am not God.

So what now?  We are gonna go live our lives, that's what.  Some of you are gonna serve coffee, others clean churches.  Just remember what you are doing if for.  It's not to pay the bills- it's to have a purpose.  It's to remember that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and He fills the void in your soul so that you may go and give that hope and love to others.

Now go.  Christianity is not an exclusive club.  You exist for the soul purpose of expanding.  There is no point in decorating the church, or practicing the music, or finishing your week at work if you are not willing to extend an open embrace to the outcast.  If you are too comfortable with your life to let someone in or if you are too busy to explain the gospel message to someone who is searching then it's all in vain and perhaps you have lost your way a little bit as well.  It is very easy to grab hold of things that feel secure only to find they have little meaning.

"Greater love has no man than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13  It's what Jesus did for you and me.  It's what it means to live sacrificially for others.  Maybe you will never actually die for someone- but sometimes that is easier to do than to actually spare 15 minutes of your life to talk to someone who is hurting.

I guess what I am saying is this: make no mistake about what this life is really all about.  I am quoting my dear friend Jennifer Niles when I say this: "If you have nothing to hold on to, then where are you?"

What are you holding on to?  Find out.

Then make it count.

2 comments:

  1. What a neat story of service. Thanks for sharing! I served in the P.C. with Stefanie for a little while, that's how I found your blog. Thanks, Jenneffer

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  2. I think I might've met those two women. Two new women came with two new children on Wednesday night. They were only going to stay until 8 and I told them that was completely fine, they could stay as long as they wanted and no one would judge them if they left early. They stayed the whole time, the kids were in RIOT. It was so nice seeing new "unchurched" people and being reminded of why we do what we do! To love!

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