I’ve come to grips with the fact that I live in the physical world and make changes in it with my body. These changes take some effort; I collect food, manage volunteers, oversee a small grocery store, and serve clients once a week. I have a huge influence over a minuscule part of the physical world in which we live.
And I’ll just admit, no lie, when I began this work, I tried to do it in my flesh. I fretted about much of it and was really controlling. And because I couldn’t control everything, like the amount of food we had to give away, I wrestled with resentments. That’s not true. I gave in to resentments. And at times, wallowed.
But, that was over a year ago. I sometimes wonder if Jesus put me in this role first, to show me the ridiculous fear and pity I hold next to my heart, and then, to grow me out of that. And, I’ve grown…a little. Now, as often as I can, I do this work in the Spirit. I believe God is in control of this whole thing. Energy and wisdom are from him. He sees it all, mistakes and everything, and he’s using its entirety for his glory, his story, his purposes.
However, a year’s worth of growth was put to the test last Thursday night.
Last week I wrote about the joy and agony of loving and shared some moments with clients from last week’s serve that weighed on my heart. But I didn’t share what began that thread in me.
I was in the warehouse, well after serve had begun. And I was wrestling with our food quantity. Well, that’s not actually true. Our food, for the most part, is pretty passive. I was actually wrestling with my feelings about how we’ll continue to feed our increasing number of clients with our dwindling stash of food.
Specifically, I was staring at the pasta sauce. It’s a hot item and clients take almost 200 cans a month. When Feed the Need concluded, we had an entire pallet of Hunt’s 24 oz. cans of the stuff in those pretty red labels. There must have been five different varieties and I thought we’d never run out. But we did.
By 9:15 a.m. I was outside in the line of clients, registering them for the day’s serve. Among them was a young mom; bright, happy, kid on her hip. We’ve served her many times.
The door opens and clients stream in. I turn registration over to Barbara and begin making the rounds. I touch base with all the serving areas and return to the door. For the first hour, or longer, this will be the most congested place, the most probable spot for tension or client discontent.
The doorbell rings and it’s the bright young mom, alone this time. She’s wanting to know how leaving and returning is handled.
“The school called. My son threw up, so I had to go get him. They won’t let students stay if they throw up. He’s not sick; he just threw up. I dropped him off at home.”
She hears, “Well normally, when someone leaves, they go to the end of the line when they come back.”
That’s easily 30 places from her original spot in our sign-up line.
Then, “Come on, we’ll work you in.”
As I am sometimes able to do, I had coffee with a volunteer before we served on Thursday. I was tired, and he said I looked so. And that was not completely due to the fact I’d been awake since 4:15 that morning.
Being in and out of the heat these past four weeks had begun and continued to take a toll on my body; and my spirits. I finally choked out my feelings. “I think I’m bored in my work at the Storehouse,” I said.
And now I’m not so sure that bored was the appropriate word. I mean, there is plenty to do. The first two Storehouse directors were in part-time positions and I can’t comprehend how they did it. Because, there is plenty to do. And much of that is interesting. I enjoy seeing and speaking to the local donors that share food with us. I like handling donations and dealing with numbers. And I so enjoy our volunteers and clients. They are really interesting! Both groups!
Maybe a better word would have been defeated. No, wait, it’s ineffective. Yes, that’s the word.
I am the Storehouse Director and get the privilege of writing about the people that Jesus loves.
Contact Mike Rush at firstname.lastname@example.org for all things "Volunteer".
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