Monday, August 29, 2011

My Food

"If you have evangelized the world and lost your family, you have failed," said the teacher at Sunday school. His message is one that has always resonated with me. I see the mission field as big as I can handle without leaving my street. Everywhere around me are people with needs; spiritual, emotional, physical. And that is before I walk out the door to get the paper. I truly admire missionaries who brave extreme deprivation to minister to distant people no one else cares about. It is all I can do to be a faithful minister to the ones that depend on me in my own family. So I really appreciated the teacher's message. Sometimes, it is most important to do a little thing well in your own little corner of the world. You can not be all things to all people, or in all likelihood, you will be no good to anyone.

I thought about that, as I left Asherel with a friend for the day, and went to the river alone. I had to meet with the marina owner anyway to set up a kayaking party for our science olympiad group. After arranging those details, I headed upstream. The current was not terrible, and the sun was not too hot. A cool breeze was in my face. I kayaked till I was halfway tired. This is not always easy to gauge. Sometimes I think I am only halfway tired, but when I turn to head home, I find out I was two thirds of the way tired, and then I stagger to the finish with melting muscles and buzzards circling overhead.

However, on this occasion, as I turned to head back, the dam waters must have been released behind me. The river swelled, and the current became swift, and the tail wind added another few mph to my ride. It was exhilarating. I flew down the river effortlessly and returned in a third of the time it had taken me to go upstream. Sometimes life is like this. Not often, but sometimes. Sometimes, one's dear Dad doesn't have pneumonia, and sometimes dear Mom is not developing a sore throat that may portend her own illness creeping in. Sometimes, one's husband doesn't have to struggle to find a job, and children do understand that some of the rules we set really are in their best interests. Sometimes...but not often, life flows downstream with a tailwind and it is all effortless.

When I returned at dinner time, Arvo was barbecuing some delectible smelling food. I was busily dealing with the backlog of the vacation week's neglected duties when he burst into the house.
"You are going to hate me," he said, "I just invited the new neighbor to dinner."
I glanced around the house- not a disaster zone, but not visitor clean.
"What will we feed her besides the meat?" I asked.
We had not done much shopping upon return from vacation yet.
"I don't know," he said.
I flew into action, made a salad, and microwaved some potatoes while Arvo scrubbed the back deck table.
"Do we have anything for dessert?" he asked, as I laid out the spotted, not quite clean placemats, thinking the plates would cover the spots.
"Freeze pops," I said.
The new neighbor knocked. We let her in, and opened the bottle of wine Matt had brought back from his Mexico honeymoon for us. Our neighbor was having a rough time, had been living with friends for 6 months in the midst of an unhappy divorce. All she currently had in her new house was a bed. She needed to do some work inside before she could move anything else in. She was tired of living with others. She wanted to be in her own home again, so with just her bed and her dog, she was slowly cleaning and readying her house. She had spent the day trimming the neglected trees in the back yard, and was tired.
"I didn't even have anything to bring over to offer you with dinner," she apologized.
"That's ok," I laughed, "All we have to offer you for dessert are freeze pops."

It was a wonderful evening. The flies were a little more numerous than I would have liked, but she is a lovely woman and I think we filled a real need for her with our thrown together meal and spotted placemats. I don't think she noticed the stains. I think she was just grateful for a place to settle among potential new friends and eat something that wasn't take-out.

 I have to admit, I would not have extended the invitation. I was too tired, and the house not in the condition I wanted a new neighbor to think I lived, and the placemats were not washed, and we didn't have anything ready to offer for dinner except the grilled meat. I am happy that my husband extended hospitality and kindness, however. Once we sat down together, it was like kayaking downstream with a tailwind.

John 4:34-36

   34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.

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