My Community Group is an amazing group of people. We get together every Tuesday night and attempt to share our lives together. We eat great food, laugh, pray, cry and talk about Jesus. It's pretty amazing. We also, from time to time, serve together. I'm not talking about easy serving - like passing out bulletins at church or picking up the donuts. I'm talking about serving outside of our comfort zone. The kind of serving that makes me feel very privileged and very selfish. It reminds me that I am more often haughty than humble. It's good for me.
This year we've been working with a lady in a neighborhood not too far from our church. It's been going ok. We helped her do some gardening and some of the ladies from our group have been in contact with her on a close to weekly basis. She was having some of her grandkids come live with her so today we were supposed to go over and help her paint the interior of her house. On Friday eveing, after all the paint supplies had been bought and the plan laid she called and said that she had to cancel. She had found another group of people that were able to do much more remodeling to her home - rip out walls, etc... I'd say we were bummed or disppointed but that wouldn't be honest. We were angry and discouraged. We felt used and lied to. It was a tough Friday night, especially for our group captain who had done all the careful planning.
On Saturday morning I had coffee with a dear friend. I was venting about the situation and trying to process how to work through all these emotions and frustrations with our group. I said "I guess we just don't know what God is doing in her (the canceler's) life." And my friend said to me: "Or in yours." Ouch, Straight to the heart. She was right. I still contend that this woman we had been trying to help, partner with, and serve had been dishonest with us. It wasn't kind what she did, but God was working in me, too. Why was I serving? Why did everything need to go exactly as planned? Was I leaving room for the Holy Spirit to work in our group and in my heart? Not so much.
Then on Saturday afternoon another one of our group member's called me. She had an idea. There was a family that she knew that were having a hard time. We'll call them John and Susie. They had to move out of their home by Sunday. She thought maybe they could use a hand. I said go for it. See if we can do something. When my friend talked to John he nearly cried. They were losing their home and they had no one to help them load the truck. Their kids had been sick all week and nothing was packed. They were desperate.
Sunday morning our group met for breakfast before we started our service day and one of the guys said "blessed are the flexible for they shall not break." Even though our carefully laid plans has been canceled, they had served their purpose. We were ten people with an entire Sunday morning free, three empty trucks and four pots of coffee. We were ready to go.
This afternoon as I watched my commuity group clean a dirty kitchen, fold mounds of laundry, load truck load after truck load of boxes and do it all while with laughter and a generous spirit. I was so proud. I remembered that God works in his own ways. We don't often get to see the big pitcure, but he always does. Today I learned that if we are willing to be his hands to our neighbors then he won't let our energy go to waste. I learned that serving isn't about a well planned work day, it's about partnering with God on the things he puts in our path.