BACK to work as we return to the Tracks for another day of serving the people. If my memory serves me right, on this day we went up the path to a small church to give away all of our clothing treasures. It was a grand morning as we displayed and gave away every type of clothing that you can imagine, along with toys, candy, Spanish tracts and Bibles. We saw lots of people, lots of clothes, many smiles and happy neighbors as they filtered through the best merchandise you can get – at the bargain price of “free.” What’s cool is that many of us, at the end of our week in Guatemala, donated almost everything we personally brought; we gave our clothes to David Beam for a good washing and distribution to families as needed. Across the street, we were building steps to the second floor of Sonja’s house. Dawn was still cutting hair, and we converged on Lucy’s home to paint the inside of her house to brighten it up and bless her family. It was a great day of service, blessing and relationships growing as we minister throughout the community of the Tracks.
Our devotional thoughts were on white paper today, a boring yet very significant color in the Gospel story, especially after our celebration of baptism yesterday. The white paper tells us that we are now clean and forgiven, which is the VERY reason that Christ sacrificed His life: so that we might be pure and forgiven of our sins. How BIG is that!! Because of Jesus’s sacrifice and God’s forgiveness, we get to live with God eternally. That’s HUGE! Psalm 51:7 says “Purify me from my sins and I will be clean, and I will be whiter than snow.” For Guatemalans, that is miraculous because they don’t see snow (and I wish sometimes I saw less). But snow is a symbol of purity that only God can provide. So, next time you see snow, it just may be a God-sighting.
With this devotion, I opened up with the question, What is the Gospel? It was an interesting discussion with a lot of blank stares; some even thought it was a trick question. I was trying to make a point: the gospel is not the news that we’re okay. It’s not the news that God is love. It’s not the news that Jesus wants to be our friend. It’s not the news that he has a wonderful purpose for our life. I kept saying these are all true, but they are just benefits. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross as a sacrificial substitute for sinners and ROSE again, making a way for us to be reconciled to God. It’s the news that the Judge will become our Father, if only we repent and believe, accepting Him as our personal Savior. This led us to the question, What is Real? To be real means actually existing or happening, to be important and deserving to be regarded or treated in a serious way. The Gospel of the Good News did actually happen, is extremely important, and should be taken seriously. It is real – and we should be real in being disciples of Jesus.
Our topic for the day was How REAL servants act. We came to Guatemala to serve, and we were serving; however, the “real” question is if we will serve when we return to routine daily life at home. Are we real in working out our faith and acceptance of Christ?
REAL servants make themselves AVAILABLE to serve. It was easy to serve in Guatemala. Even the most introverted person could step up for service here. It might be a little bit out of our comfort zone, but it’s why we came. How available are you to serve the risen Savior in everyday life? It doesn’t have to be in conjunction with a church. Are you available just working within your personal faith?
REAL servants pay attention to NEEDS. I have often commented that this is a real strength of our missionary host, David Beam. He just seems to sense the needs of the people at the Tracks and is passionate about finding ways of meeting those needs. The “Shack Attack” became real through his listening to the leading of the Lord. I have often advised people participating in a mission trip to improve their service, days and months before the actual adventure. Challenge yourself to learn to walk slowly through a crowd, sense the needs of others, and then move into action.
REAL servants do their BEST with what they have. After many years of serving in Guatemala, we have learned not to sweat the small stuff. All the tools and supplies that we have at home are often just not available. So we adjust. It’s common at the Tracks to not have the materials needed for a project we are doing; so we improvise, we change our plans, we find another way to reach the goal with the help of God and prayer. A common refrain we hear often in our world is “we just don’t have the resources.” God always provides for what He has blessed. I keep learning that lesson over and over and over. God is always faithful to His will.
REAL servants do every task with EQUAL dedication. That’s a tough concept in our society. God grants us a sense of humility when we submit ourselves to serving him. No job is too small, beneath us or meant for someone else to do it in God’s economy. The perfect example from the Word is the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet at the last supper. You know the story. It’s an ordinance in the Church God. Practice the things that Jesus did. Jesus’s question is, Who do you say I am? Are you willing to humble yourself and do whatever Jesus wills you to do? Hmmm….?
REAL servants are FAITHFUL to their ministry. Busyness is an American disease. There are so many daily options for us as to what to do with our time. Our American trinity (the TV, the computer and the cell phone) claims a loyal devotion and faithfulness that cannot be measured in comparison to anything else. We are all guilty of our addiction and we justify it. How faithful are we to our ministry (which we all have) and to the church body we gather with on a weekly basis? Are we faithful to our God, to our family, to our church, to our work, to our neighbors, to ourselves? Are we faithful to God and his ministries?
Finally, REAL servants maintain a LOW profile. This is tough because almost everyone has an innate desire to have others notice what they do. Are you serving to bring glory to God and His Kingdom, or are you serving to bring a sense of satisfaction to yourself? Are you serving because of some guilt you have or even to prove something to others? What is your focus? Is it really about bringing glory to God? And would you serve even if nobody else were aware of it? That’s something to think about!
Of course, we ended the day with our key questions and prayer. The next day was going to be rough as last day at the Tracks. Projects needed to be wrapped up, some of us still had people we needed to see, pictures and saying “goodbye” to dear people who had truly become our brothers and sisters in Christ. Leaving is always an emotional day as we close another chapter in our life.
I leave you with thought: Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Making a difference in this small part of the world is part of our purpose in visiting Guatemala. May it all be for the Glory to God!!
NEXT: The 6th Day of our Guatemalan Spiritual Journey