Sometimes tiredness makes one weary in well doing... this happened to me last week. It was the end of a physically hard day and I was still going through bags looking for clothing, shoes, household items to help people in need. I opened another bag and found it full of men's shoes. Several were dirty, smelly and generally awful. But there were pairs that worthy of being given to others. As I lifted them out, my hands were dirty and I was struck with the thought.... "I used to do 'important' stuff, like lead worship, or teach classes or be a pastor's wife.... now I'm doing this. Is this really what you have for me Lord? Touching old shoes? The many things people discard? " My strength gave way and tears begin to fall on the worn and smelly shoes....I was tired and it was easy to get discouraged.... soon I was feeling defeated remembering the various guests that have come through on tours here - how they looked like this would be beneath them... and then how I would be embarrassed to show them around. How the 'ministry' wouldn't be caught dead doing such awful work. How they wouldn't touch anything around here.
Swallowing tears I doggedly kept working, but my mind was far away.... when I had a pretty suit on... when I had my hair fixed and my heels on. When my nails were manicured and clean. When I was singing my heart out.... when inspiration was carrying me like a river of anointing! This was anything but beautiful work now. I cried and worked, and worked and cried till it was done then went home and set down to pray. I did all the talking.... He said nothing back to me....
After a while I pulled myself together and wiped my tears away and tried to forget about the past and my understanding of the present.
I'm back helping at the RMA store and a tall soft spoken man approaches me and asked me if he could set down and try on a pair of shoes. I said sure and led him to a seat. He sets down and with a smile told me he had been homeless for 3 months and had been living behind a store nearby. Someone had finally given him a job and he got paid for his first week of work. He lifted his foot and I was shocked to see the condition of his shoes. How was the poor guy even walking!!!
He said, "Do you think these shoes here might fit me?"
He holds up one of the pair of shoes that I had dripped tears on yesterday.
I swallowed hard and said I believe that those shoes are going to be a perfect fit for you sir.
He took off his old shoes and socks and while he tried the 'new' shoes on... I was frozen watching him and praying that the shoes that I didn't appreciate yesterday would work for him. He had no idea he was preaching to me!!!
Suddenly those shoes took on a whole new meaning for me... they were like precious gold. It was all I could do to keep my eyes smiling and not fill with tears AGAIN.
As soon as I saw that they were going to fit well... I slipped away from him. I found a birthday card and wrote him a note, told him that Jesus loved him and that the shoes were free to him today. I had the clerk gave the card to him when he was ready to check out. He never saw me again...
From a corner in the room I watched him stand up tall, a big smile on his face and his expression said it all. "I feel like a man again, I'm going to make it, life's going to be good for me, these shoes are exactly what a man needs to work in!"
I am humbled and feel like God gave me a personal hug to show me what I am doing is important... possibly more important than singing another song....or teaching another lesson... or wearing another title.
Later at home I wrote in my journal,
Sometimes it's not what you know... it's not in your talents... it's not even in your strengths that God uses you. It's in the unthinkable weakness and lack that God uses one. When I am weak then I am strong. Ministry is raw, dirty hands, simple work, work no one wants to do, smelly, awful at times. Ministry like this - leaves marks. Marks on the one doing it, but blessing to the one receiving it.
I am crucified with Christ. Painful shameful, shaming, makes me shy, ugly and demeaning at times. Does nothing for my ego. Yet it blesses, comforts, encourages, speaks volumes to the receiver. They know this is something unusual being done for them.
Let mercy run through me Lord... and touch the untouchables. Not with words then, but with actions of love from You to each one.
The Lord didn't have to say anything to me.... He showed me. My dirty hands were more valuable than I could understand yesterday. Leadership means servanthood to Jesus.