I miss my friend Tamara. When I first starting painting people's houses for money, I asked her to help me. Not because I needed help (not that I didn't, I did), but because I wanted to get to know her better. I also asked her to help me because I really don't like to be alone for long periods of time. I crave fellowship with others. I would make a terrible monk. After she moved away, I was just not very excited about taking painting jobs. I took them, but it wasn't the same. She's my paint buddy.
Awhile back, my husband bought a tuffshed to store our lawn equipment. But before we're able to put anything in it, it needs to be painted. I started with the basecoat, but I've been putting off the completion of the job. The main reason is that it's so stinkin' hot outside. But the other reason is that I knew I would be doing it by myself. Get my husband within 10 feet of a can of paint and he breaks into a cold sweat. There's an unwritten rule in our home: painting anything is my department. I'm usually fine with this. When I'm inside, my kids are here to keep me company, or at the very least, I can turn on the radio. In the tuffshed, I stand alone.
The basecoat is finished. I completed it yesterday. And yes, I spend most of the day without any human company. But sometimes, forced seclusion is the only way I get some really good face time with God. Such was the case yesterday. As I was painting, my mind began to wander. For some inexplicable reason, I started to think about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I remember watching the television in horror as the drama in New Orleans played out, thinking to myself, "How could this happen? Why are these people stranded and dying in the streets of New Orleans?, where is the government?" This post is not about whose to blame. I think there's plenty of blame to go around. This is about the thousands of refugees who came pouring into Houston in the days and weeks to follow, and the ones I came face to face with right here in the little town of Katy.
Like most churches in the area, mine held a meeting to discuss how we could help. Among other things, we set up a clothing and basic toiletries donation center in our church. We also signed up to feed the Katrina survivors who were staying at another local church. A group of volunteers from our church went over once a week and cooked and served lunch for approximately 100 people. It made me feel good that I was able to help out. I came in with such a great attitude, ready to bless the socks off those poor people. Many of the survivors were truly grateful, and again, that made me feel good. But others were not as forthcoming with the thanks you's. They were downright nasty. They complained about what type of food we served and how much they were given. Many just glared at me and others from our church. I'd like to say I didn't take it personally, but I would be lying. I got pretty indignant about the whole process: "Who do they think they are? Don't they know we're trying to help them? They should be grateful they got out of New Orleans alive and have a roof over their heads!" I don't regret what we did, and I'd do again in a heartbeat. But after my conversation with God yesterday, I think if there's a next time, my attitude will be different.
While I was painting in the tuffshed, God said to me, "It's not about you." Now, I realize that that's Rick Warren's line - but hey, He is God after all, so I guess they're all His lines. I'm pretty hard on Christians who sport the Jesus fish on their car, never miss a Sunday in church, let everyone know that they're going to heaven, but don't strive to live a life abiding in Jesus. And then I realized that's exactly what I am. The fact that I expected some gratitude from those people exposed my heart to me for the first time since it happened. My motives were completely wrong. I wasn't trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I was expecting payment in the form of gratefulness. So, I'm laying this at the foot of the cross, asking God to forgive me for selfish motives and seeking His help to become a true follower of Jesus, and I am convicted by these words:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death --
even death on the cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Do everything without complaining or arguing,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault
in a crooked and depraved generation,
in which you shine like stars in the universe
I want to be shiny...