Every now and then things happen that remind me why I love what I do. This was one of those weeks. Actually it started a little more than a week ago when I met with a pastor who loves books. He is a passionate disciple of Christ with a burning desire to see his congregation grow in their knowledge of God. While we were meeting, he shared with me some of the challenges and opportunities that he and his church were facing. He had concluded that they were facing some big decisions about the future and needed to know what God was saying to them about the direction that they should take. So often this is the exact kind of situation where church consultants are called in to help with a master strategy. Instead this pastor had one big plan – pray and get all of his people to do the same. In order to make this more concrete, he had read a great book on prayer and was recommending that his congregants do the same. All he needed was someone to make these books available to the church on short notice. This was not a problem as I knew where to get the books he needed and I was available to help staff his book table for part of the weekend. As people flocked around the book table, it struck me that this exactly what what God had called me to do – make resources available to the church so that His servants, like this pastor, are able to do what God has called them to do.
As the week progressed, I became consumed by meetings and bogged down in the day to day work that is so necessary for a ministry like ours to function effectively. Right in the middle of the week, however, I took a few hours out around lunch time to provide some much needed help in one of our stores that is short staffed at the moment. Whenever I have these opportunities, as brief as they may be, I ask the Lord to use me as He sees fit. In this particular case, our store was extremely busy and lots of people needed help. I was at the front counter when I heard an older women in the Bible department plaintively ask for help to anyone who could hear her. At that moment, none of the other staff were nearby and I may have been the only one who actually heard her at all. I quickly told her that I would be right with her and finished up the transaction that I as working on. She was trying to make a decision about buying a Bible for her son who has just expressed an interest in learning more about God’s word. As we talked together it became apparent that she needed a good study Bible and not the devotional Bible she had been contemplating. It was not long until we settled on a Life Application Bible in the New Living Translation and she began to smile. She thanked me for my help and said that she felt this would be just the right Bible for her son. As we wrapped up the conversation, I realized that the Lord had placed me in the store for that particular moment in this woman’s life and that she would never have gotten that kind of help in Wal-Mart or online.
As if that were not good enough, the Lord put an exclamation point on my week at the missions conference I attended this weekend. As a part of the conference (which we have been attending for 15 years), Deb and I run a huge book table and teach in two Sunday school classes. When we were given the schedule, I could see that we would be teaching a 4th grade class and I was excited. Often kids around that age are attentive and old enough to understand the material we are presenting without being so jaded by the cares of the world that they tune out like many can do in the middle school years. We were not disappointed and I was deeply touched by the depth and intelligence of the questions that we were asked by these kids during the Q&A session at the end of class. Following the class, Deb and I went back to the book table and got caught up helping the many people crowding around to get their books before the conference came to a close. Just as I was about to help someone, a bright eyed young 4th grade boy who had been in the class came up to me and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Thanks for teaching my class this morning, you really inspired me.” He told me that his name was Tim and I could tell that he loved books. This encounter touched my heart and nearly brought a tear to my eye as Tim reminded me a lot of myself at the same age. I have great memories of adults who had helped instill a love of books and God’s word in my life at that pivotal point in my young life and now I was able to do the same for Tim.
If I ever need to remember why I love what I do, all I have to do is think back on this week or simply follow God’s leading as He gives me more of these opportunities in the years to come.