Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Father's gifts

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8)

We step over the sleeping dog that is blocking the narrow path to her house. The chickens scramble around our feet at the sight of visitors.She is waiting, as she always is- sitting at a small wooden desk that appears crooked due to the uneven dirt floors.

Her books are open and she studies them intently. Her smile is contagious - you cannot help but to feel wanted as she ushers you into her home. It’s small and damp and every inch of space is filled to the brim, careful to make use of all they have.

What instantly comes to my mind is her precious gift of hospitality.

 I remember back to my life in the states, times when I would scurry around the house making sure everything was in perfect order before our company arrived. I would get frustrate and snap at my children if they left fingerprints on the sliding glass doors when company was on their way. Everything had to be exact.

Because if everything was perfect surely they would think we were too.

I didn’t want people to think less of us. I needed to appear to have it all together, appear to have given Martha Stewart a little competition-appear to be something I was not.

Did anyone truly fall for that?

Because the truth is, that was my disease. I never truly cared about my company feeling welcomed, I wasn’t thinking about them- I was worried about what they thought about ME. I was trapped in my own little world revolving around ME. And here before me stood a young girl of 14 who didn’t have the privilege of searching Pinterest to put together a spread to impress. She had to depend on someone else to bring a bag of groceries each week so they could ‘get by’- and yet her heart, and therefore her home, was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen in my life. She was full of JOY and her eyes literally sparkled as she welcomed her visitors into her home. She had this way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world.

I want to be like that.

I want to use what little I have and make it count. I want to make people know they are welcomed, know they are important, and know they are loved.

I have so much to learn from this precious child.

Jessica and her family live in a small village not far from Village of Hope. We have the privilege of visiting her weekly to deliver a bag of groceries, pray for her and her family and be a small part of their lives. This sweet girl carries the weight of the world on her shoulders as she helps care for her younger sisters and often steps into the role of mother now. Jessica’s family was doing ‘ok’ up until about two years ago. They had a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and her father had steady work. Steady enough that her father was able to one day surprised her mom by bringing home a Singer sewing machine.

Little did he know that gift would one day sustain his family.

It was a beautiful day out- the perfect day for a game of soccer. Oh how Guatemalans love the game of soccer. Jessica’s dad was no different. He and a group of friends decided to grab a ball and have a little fun. The game had gone on for a little while when someone accidentally kicked the ball out of bounds, down the hill, and into the street. The hill was steep- it was hard to stop once you caught momentum. Jessica’s dad chased after the ball….

 Life changed drastically that day for Jessica, her 3 siblings and her mother.

 Her father was struck by a car that didn’t see him coming. He lived for 4 days after that, in the hospital over Christmas. He never woke up again.

Life is so fragile. So often we fool ourselves into pretending that if we play all our cards right, if we are careful enough, wise enough, protective enough- somehow our lives will always be okay. But the truth is- none of us know when our last breath will be.

 But what we do know is that we have right now- this minute- and it is a gift. It’s an opportunity to be Jesus on earth,  it's an opportunity to make Him known- so that others can have security in their eternity as well.

 Unfortunately, I am usually pretty good at wasting those minutes. I am usually pretty good at letting the little things get in the way of the things that really do matter. I am usually pretty good at worrying if my house is nice enough for my guest to be impressed, when all that I should care about is if they see Christ’s love in me.

 Lord forgive me.

When we met Jessica’s family we knew they needed help- and hope. They had used up any extra they had since her father’s passing and barely had enough food to get through the week. Jessica’s older brother, now age 18, quit school to find work so that he could help provide for his family. He was able to find a job collecting garbage. Then, there was also talk of selling their greatest possession- the last gift her father had given her mother- the Singer sewing machine.

But God works in ways that we can’t even begin to dream.

Jessica’s brother would begin to collect items that people would throw in the trash and bring them home. Torn sweaters, tattered jeans. And Jessica’s mom would learn how to sew by practicing on them. She would then be able to use her talent of sewing and find a job to help support her family.

 I sometimes imagine the day Jessica’s father brought home that special gift for his wife. I imagine the excitement, the laughter. I imagine them hugging and smiling that secret smile a husband and wife share. I know he had no idea that day just how important that Singer sewing machine would become.

Today, the gift he gave sits in the middle of his home reminding all who see it  about the greatness of a Father’s love.

The other gift he gave, Jessica, sits at her desk studying, hoping for a better future.

(Jessica and her younger sister in their home)
Father God, I thank you Lord for the many, many gifts you have given us. I pray Lord that you help us to use them up- all of them- so that one day we can stand before you, empty handed and bankrupt, and rejoice at the work you have done through us. Amen.

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