Tuesday, July 28, 2015

God's Junk Drawer

"In a large household there are vessels not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for lofty and others for humble use." --2 Timothy 2:20

I live in a large household, and like all large households, I have a variety of vessels. I don't own any gold ones (except for the gold rim on my fancy holiday plates.) I have some silver, but just a few fancy serving pieces.  I have lots of wood, and some clay, glass and stoneware.  I have plenty of plastic. 

As I read this verse, I'm not thinking of any of those dishes.  The ones I'm thinking of are the ones that fill my kitchen junk drawer.  It's not really junk, it is an eclectic variety of implements intended for use in the preparation of food.
So, as I look inside the drawer at this menagerie of implements, I wonder what God is telling me about this verse.  

If God is looking into HIS kitchen junk drawer, which implement would I be?  

My friend Kathy would be his whisk!  She is gifted at stirring up the fire of faith in the teens in our parish.  She's fun and athletic, full of spunk and Spirit.  She's a fast mover. She takes that which is heavy and lightens it with air.  She's a whisk! 

Now Sue is the wooden spoon. She keeps everything going by performing a multitude of duties.  She can stir people into ushering at Mass, she scrapes up volunteers to read and distribute Communion.  Just like the wooden spoons I've heard stories about, she can also be useful with distributing justice.  

I believe Uncle Hugh might be the can-opener.  When questions of Church History come up, he opens up a can of... Well, he actually opens up books of information and shares that knowledge with those most in need of correction.  

I have friends who may be cherry-pitters.  Yep, I have one of those.  It's express purpose is to pop the pits out of cherries.  It's a very specific device with a very specific purpose. Some of us are like that.  Some of us just lay in the drawer waiting for our turn to be useful.  Some of us are spatulas, made to turn people over so they don't burn.  (Burn, get it?)  Some of us are measuring cups.  Some of us are rolling pins.  Some of us are egg separators.

I think Jesus might be like a cutting board.  

He stands between the utensils with sharp edges and the countertop, protecting His home and kitchen. He allows himself to be wounded to keep his home safe.  

I still don't know what I am.  I don't know precisely what my job is.  Am I a cheese grater? An egg timer? Salad tongs? Maybe I'm a bamboo skewer! I just don't know!  

It is my honor to be in the drawer.  It is my honor to be a vessel for God's use.  Whether I am for lofty use or for humble use doesn't matter to me.  I am here for his use.  

Please open the drawer and use me, Lord. 

Help me to be of use to you.        


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pedicures and Epic Failure

While working in the kitchen at Catholic Heart Work Camp, my new friend Marianna and I were discussing the benefits of a pedicure.  On the one hand, we are here to serve the needy of Springfield, Illinois.  On the other hand, she's been working like this for 3 weeks, and has 3 more weeks to go in this summer stint as a part of the CHWC staff. We decide then and there, that if time allows, we will go get this elusive slice of Heaven, known as the Mani-Pedi.  

On Thursday, the time arrives, so Marianna, Courtney and I meet at the nail salon. This is only the third time I've had a professional pedicure, and as this young man massages the soles of my feet and calves with sugar scrub, I wonder why I don't do this more often.  He scrubs away the dead skin and trims the nails on my toes.  He removes a bit of callus, and discovers that my feet are really ticklish. John, my nail technician, is a young Asian man with a 4 month old son. At the moment, he and his co-workers look like Jesus to me.  He is washing my feet.  They are giving rest and comfort to those of us who will give rest and comfort. The significance of this is at the front of my mind, and I silently pray for him and his family. 

And he is very SKILLED at comforting my feet!  

I have been soaked and scrubbed and lotioned and oiled.  I have been given a base coat and a cuticle push, a coat of the purple polish I chose, and then a top coat.  My legs and feet feel spectacularly refreshed. John puts my toes into the foam toe spreaders and we walk out to the manicure area, and I sit on a bar stool awaiting the next pampering.  It is time to work on my hands.

During my time at camp, I have become known as the "High Five Lady".  I have exchanged high fives with so many students, I can't even count them.  Actually, there are 260 of them, but I've high fived so many times that the skin on my hands is actually split and cracked. I love the enthusiasm of these teens, but come on, boys!  You don't have to "wind-up" before you smack the old lady's hands!  I love camp, and being a part of it comes at a cost.  I am in dire need of hand help.  The cure is called a Paraffin Dip.  

My hands are oiled and anointed with lotion and dipped in hot paraffin wax that warms, relaxes, and renews the muscles of my poor beaten hands.  After a time, my nails are polished and shined and look fabulous. John adds a coat of glitter and sends me to the drying table. I'm waiting for my friends and my nails to be ready when I notice a problem.  I have bumped my big toe against something and botched the paint job. 

OH GREAT!  I wrecked it!  This is SO typical of me!  I finally get to do something nice and I WRECK IT!  I had this great thing going, and I BOTCHED IT!  Grrrr!  I am furious with myself, and frankly, I'm disappointed.  I wanted to be beautiful!  I wanted to look good!  Every time I look at this toe, I will see and be reminded that this was a failure!  The pedicure was a failure.  

I am a failure. 

I have looked at that toenail every day for the last month, and I now realize how wrong I have been.

I am still a bit defective.  But I was wrong to think that it was the polish that made our feet beautiful.    Long before any of us, or even the Lord was born, Isaiah 52:7 said, 

"How beautiful upon the mountains*
are the feet of the one bringing good news,
Announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”
That's EXACTLY why we're in town!  Our feet were beautiful before we even got there.  John's work on my feet was not in vain.  I was mistaken to believe that one little flaw negates the goodness of the rest of the experience. A centimeter of missing purple doesn't undo all the good of the massage, or the sugar scrub or the paraffin.  It doesn't undo time spent with new friends, or the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ with 260 slap-happy campers and the people of Springfield Illinois. When I looked at my missing polish, I was thinking of what WASN'T, instead of all that WAS, and that is a mistake. 
WhenI focus on what didn't happen, or what didn't work out, or what it LOOKS LIKE, I completely miss the point!  Our whole lives are a series of events that we can choose to see the missing or find the blessings. My heart disease is like that. I can weep over having been dead for a few minutes, and how my heart doesn't work right, or I can thank God for the time spent in His loving embrace. My heart still mourns for the baby I lost, but I thank God for the knowledge that I have an intercessor in Heaven, and that my child is loved and cared for until we are together again. 
I am so very thankful for Marianna and Courtney for sharing this experience with me.  Had I not been accompanied by these beautiful servants of God, (and their beautiful feet) I may have missed out on this valuable lesson.  You amazing ladies have reminded me to use my beautiful feet for the glory of God.