Here's one of the first things ministry will teach a person: If you give your life to Jesus, He'll take it.
And it's not like a job where He conducts and interview and tells you what He'd like you to do and where you get to indicate your preferences and the things you absolutely won't do like a prospective maid might say I don't dust or do laundry.
If you give Him your life, He'll take it.
And because He knows perfectly and completely what are the purposes and practices of His Kingdom and exactly how we all fit into that, and especially what we can do to maximize His glory, He doesn't ask us what we'd like to do.
It just happens.
Today, I was going to step out into the waiting crowd this morning when the sign-up clipboard went out. I figured if I was out there while folks were signing up, we'd deal with less jostling; less I was here first.
But I couldn't do that, because I didn't have my work keys with me. I had arrived early, to get my stuff done, so I could step out with the clipboard but, instead, made an immediate trip home where I could not find my keys.
When I got back, volunteers let me in. I kept most of my cool about the way my day had started. Actually, my day had started at Panera, with a fellow volunteer and a nice cup of coffee, and a great Oswald Chambers devotion from My Utmost for His Highest. The devotion was about the fact of sin, and one line from it said that most of life is tragic.
I threw away several boxes of perfectly good pastries because they also had perfectly good ants inside. And then we sat for our team meeting.
Not so long into the meeting and someone in the line outside was banging against the windows. A kerfuffle had developed over signing the clipboard. Our clients are tired and stressed. They struggle just to look out for themselves and those in their care. Sometimes those stress points are triggered by something as simple as taking turns and signing up.
The problem resolved itself, and later all of them were served, but I came back into our meeting with a lot less of my cool. I was so dangerously close to creeping to the dark side of the serving domino. "I'll show more grace to you if you'll just behave in line." "I'll be happy to serve you if you'll just be happy while I serve you." "I'll appreciate you more if you'll just show a modicum of appreciate for all we're doing here for you."
Back in the meeting, I told our volunteers that our enemy was present this morning. But, I said, so was our Savior, even while I struggled to be certain that would make a difference.
Then we opened the door and celebrated our guests' arrival with smiles and warm greetings and cookies. The guy at the center of the problem outside came in and apologized for his behavior and said he loved coming to the Storehouse.
"We love for you to come, too."
And then one computer's internet went down. It came back up and then the other computer's went down. Computers in the office complex couldn't stay connected either. We called Conway Corp. They said the problem was on our side. Laura came and explained the problem and the fix but all I got was Update, DNS, and Internet. Then they both went down again for good.
And by then most of my cool was completely gone.
So I recalculated my goals for the day. I set my sights on getting to the end of the day without hurting anyone's feelings, without being short with anyone, without saying something I'd regret later.
I did get to interview three prospective volunteers today, and took another application. I'm so glad people are attracted to what we do and want to join us. That's the grace of Jesus on the Storehouse for sure.
We were low again on volunteers, so, once more, folks rolled into roles where they were needed. No one that I thought would come to carry out groceries made it in. Jon, back for his second day of volunteering, was THE carry out person.
I helped him a bit and realized again, when I saw their vehicles, just how vulnerable our people are. This car door doesn't open. I hold the hood down with this coat hanger. I can't turn it off cause it won't start again. Our clients seem to have much of themselves together inside the Storehouse, but one step out to their cars, or the one they've borrowed, is the beginning of stepping into the world where they live. A world held together by bailing wire and twine and duct tape. A world where cars have some gas but really need consistent prayer to get anywhere.
Our hygiene room needs TP and deodorant and small and large sizes of both shampoo and conditioner. And even after receiving all that food on Feed the Need day, we're completely out of mixed vegetables, greens of all varieties, and canned potatoes. Meals with meat, like Beanie Weenies, chili, Manwich, sloppy joe, and stews are in high demand.
Now that the lights are off in the Storehouse, the perishable left-behind foods weighed out and delivered, all the fans and A/C units turned off, and most of my cool back, I can think and talk about what it means to have lost my life to Jesus.
Well, in all honesty, it's a lot of my trying to take it back. And sometimes that takes the form of my having an opinion about what happens. And the amount that what happens will demand of me. And sometimes I just want to say, "I didn't sign up for this."
But I did. We all did.
And we get to walk with Him. And know our lives matter. And love others in His name. And reveal Him to a hurting and broken world. Even if that world is just a few people each week.
And one day, we'll get to go home to be with Him.
And we didn't sign up for that either.
It's the bonus.
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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