If you looked around our house 8 years ago we were basically one big hand me down/garage sale find. Our couch and chair were hand me downs from my mom that were of drinking age. An uncle passed down our bed frame that used to house a waterbed, which should give you an indication of the era it was from. Our garage sale kitchen table (which was the only table we owned) sported a mere three chairs around it. When my Mom was joining us for dinner we would pull out an old, metal, school house chair that was about 6″ shorter than the others. It made you feel like you were 5 years old again attempting to eat at a table that was chest height. We lovingly referred to it as our “guest of honor” chair. Needless to say House Beautiful magazine wasn’t knocking on our door for a photo shoot.
About that time our church was starting up new life groups and were looking for people to host. Of course we couldn’t host. I’d been to other people’s houses, they were gorgeous! They were beautifully furnished with items that matched. Their furniture was comfortable and plush. They had the ability to host dinner parties for 20 people or more in their spacious, artfully decorated homes. They were so much better equipped than we were.
So we waited. Time passed and they still needed more people to offer up their homes.
The book of Acts talks about the early church and how it grew because of excited, new believers meeting to learn about Jesus. They met in people’s homes, they met near the market, they gathered anywhere and everywhere for the chance to learn more about Jesus, the man who changed history for all of mankind. Somehow I doubt they were thinking “No we can’t meet here to learn about the MOST IMPORTANT thing we’ll ever learn. My couch doesn’t have any support left to it.”
Christians believe that all good things come from God. Our homes, our jobs, and our belongings are all blessings. It quickly dawned on me that my line of thinking was basically telling God that the gifts He has given me, weren’t good enough.
Can you imagine speaking to Jesus face to face and saying that?!
Jesus: My dearest daughter, beloved child whom I suffered and died for, will you use the home I have gifted to you so others may learn about me and grow in their faith?
Me: Welllllll, you see Jesus, I was thinking about it. I know that I have all that I’ll ever need and am richer than 95% of the people in the entire world, living here in the United States with a home and 2 cars and all…but the stuff you gave me…it’s not good enough.
Jesus: Not good enough?
Me: Yeah, maybe once you bless me with newer, better stuff I can use it for you.
I sent the email that day that the Reinhardts could host a life group.
Since then a lot has changed. We finally purchased a couch and chair that we ourselves chose from a store. A table with 6 chairs now lives in our dining room and we’ve had the privilege of having friends over for dinner without using our “Guest of Honor” chair. A good friend remodeled our fireplace and our floors and kitchen received a facelift compliments of a water main break last year. And we still host life group.
After the remodel work was done I was looking around admiring how far our little home has come. I chuckled as I remembered the epiphany that brought us to host life group in the first place.
And then I realized I had done it again.
This time it had nothing to do with my worldly possessions, but with my health, time and energy. I had inadvertently told God that His gifts were not good enough.
Before my Lupus diagnosis I was working at our church heading up local missions projects. Some were small, easily orchestrated collection projects for local charities and some were large, church wide serve days that involved months of preparation and long hours the day of. And I LOVED it. To me, watching people come together to be the hands and feet of God to serve others is Christianity at it’s finest. Nothing brought me more joy and satisfaction. But as my Lupus symptoms progressed in intensity, it increasingly robbed me of energy. I was barely able to run my household. Now if I had the choice between cooking and cleaning my house or mission work project planning, I would choose the project planning every. single. time. Problem was there wasn’t anyone cooking or cleaning my house for me. I had reached the point where I needed to step down. Lupus, like many other diseases is cruel and doesn’t discriminate what it robs you of, no matter it’s importance or your affinity for it.
I tried to make peace with yet another “new normal.” I still volunteered in the Children’s Ministry on Sundays and at the food pantry but I felt restless.
I’ll let you in on a little secret; when you experience restlessness, that’s usually an indication that some God-given talent and drive within you is not being utilized or expressed to its full potential.
God created me to serve and I needed to find a new outlet to do it. I couldn’t sit idle and tell Jesus that the gift of my health, no matter what state I was in wasn’t “good enough” to be used by Him for Him. Though I might not be able to do what I used to, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do something different or in a different way.
What could I do, right now, where I was, with what I had?
As humans we naturally resist change. Even if the change turns out to be for the better, we have a tendency to initially buck it. We get caught in familiar routines that we repeat over and over believing we’ve perfected the most efficient way, or the only way to do them. We start to loose our ingenuity and creativity for tackling tasks differently or reevaluating our methods and strategies for improvement from time to time. I initially get discouraged when my abilities are hindered or halted due to my illness, but if there is one thing life has taught me, it is to be FLEXIBLE. Flexible with my plans, flexible with my thinking, flexible to let God work through me even when it doesn’t look like I had imagined or planned.
It was time for some creative brainstorming on new ways to serve. It was time to be flexible with what that could look like.
Sometimes, it looks like dirty water and a 19,000 ft. Mountain.
What are you restless about? Get creative…and be flexible!