Sunday, June 26, 2011

SEW Sunday: Grace

I think I'm going to change SEW Sunday to something more generic, because this week I have absolutely nothing to report in the writing world.  I'm supposed to use SEW Sundays to talk about what's going on with the queries I'm SENDING, the stories I'm EDITING, and the stories I'm currently WRITING.  But I've kind of realized lately that while the writing stuff is very important, there are going to be times when I don't do anything with it.  And that's okay.  I mean, just because I'm not writing or working on something that has to do with writing does NOT necessarily mean I'm not doing other things that are important.

This week, writing was pretty much out of the question.  Why?  Because I worked from 8-5:30 every day except for Thursday (Thursday I worked 8-1 and then went home and took a nap because I was BURNT OUT from the rest of the week), and then Monday-Friday I had VBS from 5:45-8:30ish.  So most days I left my apartment at 7:45 a.m. and didn't see it again until 8:45 p.m. or later.  And when I got home, my brain didn't exactly feel like doing writing stuff...or much of anything else.  I didn't even exercise this week--though I probably sweat off a couple pounds just standing outside with VBS.

I had a very busy week.  I also had an amazingly good week.  It doesn't matter that the only writing I did was to jot down a few lines of poetry for a song I've been trying to write.  What matters is that I got to spend time with three of my favorite young ladies (The Princess, The Diva, and The Drama Queen) along with their cousin who was there all week.  We played games and made root beer floats and went to the pool and just spent time together.  And at the end of the week, just when I was wondering how these four girls had NOT gotten sick to death of me, they all bombarded me with HUGE hugs and "I love yous" that made every second of that wonderful time we'd spent together even more amazing.

I love my girls.  I'm very excited about the days I'm going to get to spend with them this summer.  But I also worked my Saturday at the drop-in center, where I had not worked all week, and I realized that I really like it there, too.  I know there's days when the kids drive me crazy, but I have to admit I love them, too.  Sometimes the ones that drive me the most crazy are the ones I end up liking the most.  And I love the people I work with.  They're some of the most encouraging young ladies I've ever met.  So work, while often stressful, is also a joy.  And I don't deserve to have this kind of joy, but God's given it to me anyway.

I don't have a lot compared to what a lot of people think is a lot.  I live from paycheck to paycheck most of the time.  Sometimes I have more than enough.  More often I have just enough to squeeze by.  Sometimes I find myself in dire need of that next paycheck so I can go buy a half gallon of milk, a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of carrots to make it through to the next week (I live on more than that, but those seem to be my staples lately).  I'm working a lot of weird hours at a lot of jobs.  I don't have a husband or kids.  I don't have a house with a swimming pool in the suburbs.  But I've always got enough.  I have a roof over my head every time I go to sleep at night.  I never have to go hungry.  I've got clothes to wear and books to read and even a borrowed computer to type on.  I've got a car.  I'm really quite blessed materially...even if I'm poor compared to a lot of other Americans. 

And I'm blessed in a lot of other ways, too.  I'm smart enough to get by.  I have talents.  I have TONS of amazing friends.  I've got a great family--even if they live far away--who always offers me love.  I have work to do.  I have dreams and passions and hopes. 

And I have Jesus. 

This week, I volunteered with VBS out in one of the local communities.  I don't feel that I was very important (and I wasn't--but then none of us really are--we just have worth in God).  I was just a craft leader (the leader with scissors!).  I tried to connect some of the lessons, but I'm not sure I did that great of a job of it.  But I'm a fairly good watcher/listener when I really set my mind to it, and I did a lot of observing of other volunteers and kids who came to VBS.  There was one boy who stood out to me.  Well, he stood out to everybody, because he was one of the most boisterous kids I've ever seen. 

I'm going to call him Jeremiah, but that's not his real name.  On the first night of VBS, he informed his Bible Study leader (Pastor Bryan) that he and his family didn't have a Bible.  On the second night of VBSME and even I could be His witness even in the uttermost parts of the earth.

And I found myself weeping (controlled weeping--I didn't want to cause a scene) at the end of VBS as Pastor Randy was telling all of this to us.  Why?  Was it because I rejoiced that through our small efforts God was doing something amazing?  Was it because through our small efforts, God was working in the lives of a small boy named Jeremiah and possibly his entire family?  Was it because through our small efforts, God was showing His almighty power? 

The answer is yes.  But there's more.  And I'm not sure I can even begin to type out what I really want to say.

See, it's grace that God gives us when He saves us.  It's grace that any of us are able to come to Him at all.  It's amazing grace that finds the lost and gives sight to the blind (and we sang that in church this morning, just reiterating everything that's been going on in my brain for the past several days).  Apart from God, we're nothing.  With God, we have all we could ever need.  So grace saves us.  Grace brings us from darkness to light, from death to life.  In God, we have hope for our own futures.

But God didn't stop there.  And I don't know why He chose to make the world in this way, nor do I know why He'd want any of us to begin with.  But grace is even more amazing because grace does more than just save us.  God does more than just save us.  God chooses us, desires us, calls us to be the conduits of His grace to other people.  When God saves us, He doesn't just leave us alone.  That would be too little for someone as great as our God. 

He wants His people to glorify Him.  He. Uses. Us.  And that can look like so many things.  It can look like someone giving away all they have to go be a missionary in Thailand.  It can look like someone going downtown with some sandwiches and Bibles to give to homeless people.  It can look like something as simple as someone volunteering to do crafts with VBS, because even if I didn't feel that important, I know God wanted me there--both for those kids and for myself.  Because I definitely got a blessing out of this week. 

The thing is, when God gives me a blessing, that doesn't mean I just get to sit around in my blessedness patting myself on the back.  God blesses His people so that they are able to share that blessing with others.  And I'm still learning what that looks like for me.  I have a feeling it doesn't look like just one thing for me, and it probably doesn't look like just one thing for anyone.

Because it's really easy to get into the trap of thinking that God's preparing me for something BIG in the future, and I look forward to that.  But the truth is that while God may or may not be preparing me for something BIG in the future, God's also doing a lot of little things in my life right here and now.  And if I keep looking too far ahead, I might miss what He's doing now.  And right now, there's a lot that I don't want to miss.  I don't want to miss a minute of this summer with my girls.  I don't want to miss a moment of crazy wonderfulness with my co-workers.  I don't want to miss any of the summer stuff going on at my church.  I don't want to miss anything God does in me or through me.  And I'm learning what that looks like.  And it's a crazy insane adventure that I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try...

The most important theme for me personally from this week of VBS was from a simple refrain from one of the kids' favorite songs.  The song was "the rap song" according to the kids, but it was really called "Why Don't You?"  And it had John 3:16 laid out in a cool little rap that will get stuck in kids' (and VBS leaders') heads forever--which is a very good thing.  But the refrain of the song is what I needed to hear.  "We trust Jesus because He loves us."  And then came the question, "Why don't you?" 

I keep coming back to the same thing.  If I believe God is good, loving, and able, then why don't I trust Him?  I have to keep repeating to myself that simple refrain, personalizing it slightly.  "I trust Jesus because He loves me."  And He does love me.  And He wants me.  And He calls me.  And He gives me grace.  So I should trust Him.  I'm learning.  This summer has already proven to be an adventure.  I trust it will continue to be so.  I'm looking forward to autumn, but also trying to truly live right here and now.  Because God is here and now.  And His love and grace are here and now.

Will there be time for writing?  Yes.  I do have to be diligent to do that.  But honestly, I don't have any guilt over not writing this week.  I did a lot of living.  I mean, I even held a python this week.  I think that earns me a Get Out of Writing Free card for the week, don't you? 

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