Yesterday morning was the fruit of months of planning. A time and space created for people to serve and be served. A place where feet were washed, tears spilled, hearts filled. I saw love poured out and love hungrily accepted.
Looking back on last year, my greatest desire was to make sure that every person who came through our doors received a complete ready to cook Thanksgiving meal to take home and share together as a family. We planned for 500 and ended up with more than enough to serve our guests. This year the focus was different … to provide people with a warm and welcoming place to connect with us and each other, a space for our volunteers to be able to utilize their unique talents and giftedness, and for our guests to experience the amazing love of Christ through His church. The “what” was always there, but it took the backseat.
This shift in perspective from completing tasks with tangible objectives in mind to simply wanting to serve and love people with excellence is a gift from God. I’m a widget-maker by nature, give me a thing to do and a timeline and get out of my way. Over the past 12 months the lord has been refining that. As I grow closer in Him, trusting Him, allowing Him to mold and shape and lead me into places I’ve feared and resisted.
For example, the night before last was sleepless and restless. I woke up around 3:30 all wound up, asking God what on earth I was supposed to say in the VIP meeting. Public speaking is so far outside my comfort zone. Fear of failure still has the potential to cripple if given room in my head. In the stillness I sensed God telling me that what was coming was rare, a time that the world was coming to us, and we should be ready to make the most of that opportunity. I didn’t remember if I actually shared it, I was so nervous.
But I believe we did, every single volunteer in every single role from parking lot, to registration, to cafe, greeters, hospitality, medical, security, tech team, prayer counseling, coat closet, meal distribution, exit team, clean up. No servant greater than another, no role more important, each one living in the joy of where God has placed them, that joy evident as I walked through each area over and over, ensuring that everyone had what they needed. And I got out of their way.
It is indeed rare that the world would come to us. The reality is that we as Christ followers are commanded to go out. Our mission field is not inside the church walls, it is beyond our parking lot. We live in our mission field every day, going to the same places every day, and come in contact with new people every day. This is the world who needs our Jesus, our hope. Yesterday was a model for how our lives should be lived every day. Open, warm, generous, loving, joyful, sacrificial, bold for Christ.
If we served coffee together to hundreds yesterday, each one of us has the ability to serve one person one cup of coffee today. If we gave hundreds of meals away to the hungry yesterday, each one of us has the ability to feed one person we know is lacking today. If we prayed with hundreds yesterday, listening to their stories with compassion, offering comfort and hope in Jesus …… each one of us has the ability to do that again with just one person today.
Within our individual spheres of influence is the world, bumping and crashing right up into our lives. The faces and names might be different, but there are people that you and I already know who are hungry and hurting and in need of a missionary to bring them light and love and hope. Yesterday we did that on a huge scale together, living the gospel out loud in word and deed. The event may be over, but we are far from being done. My prayer is that each one of us recognizes the everyday opportunity to be a missionary where we live work and play and follows Jesus into those unknown places right here in our midst.
Photo credits LifeSong Church Lyman, Facebook @LifeSongChurchOnline