From an RBC devotional message titled, "Be all there", I read this story: A young man secured a holiday job at a resort town. He didn't know what kind of a job he would be getting into until he got there. When he arrived they gave him a job as a dishwasher. He didn’t like that kind of a job, so he decided to quit even before he started. But his friend talked him into staying; not just for the pocket money, but to enjoy the new experience of being the best dishwasher he could be!
It was not his hands that mattered, but his attitude towards what was before him. As I reflected on this devotional message I realized that over the years God had brought me to many situations, people and circumstances which I had dismissed as 'not good enough for me'. I could have been right about those notions but I could have been wrong too.
I am reminded of the scripture passage in Acts 10: 9-16 wherein the Apostle Peter was offered different kinds of meat from heaven to eat; yet three times he refused to obey the instructions to eat. Peter felt that these meats were wrong for him, since eating them violated his Jewish culture. These are the different scenarios we are faced with in life.
But sometimes the circumstances are very simple like the young man's and yet our response could make or break a relationship or opportunity.
A couple of years ago we travelled as a Christian women's group to a conference hosted by one of our African countries. We were in a very jovial mood when we boarded the plane and landed in that country. For some of us it was a double blessing because not only was it the first time to travel outside our nation, but it was also the first time to board a plane. We were deeply excited and full of praise to God for His goodness to us. We had also managed to raise airfares despite our meagre resources. We were just over the moon with excitement and anticipation.
In less than an hour after arrival a luxury coach took us from the airport to the residential place where we would be staying for the week duration of the conference. The place was a college boys' student hostel. We alighted from the coach and stood in amazement at the sight of that building. None of us had been the least prepared to see the ugly sight of that building. It was old, run down and filthy. And that was just the outside we were looking at!
I think the coach crew read our changing emotions faster that we expressed them because they quickly unloaded our luggage and drove away, leaving us just standing there. We all wanted to go back home, right there and there. But we had no transport out of that place which we had no idea of its location on the map of that country' city. Our exceedingly abundant joy evaporated into tears of anguish and desperation for a reassuring word.
We dragged our suitcases to the entrance marked 'Reception' where some unconcerned college staff gave us keys to our rooms. Turning the keys and opening the hostel rooms led us into even more depression. The rooms’ walls and floors were equally filthy. Some of us needed to use the bathrooms urgently and rushed there only to be greeted with uncleaned toilet seats and sinks. Everything in those bathrooms was just despicable.
We regrouped as a team and sought among us who would find means to go to town and visit the conference organizers’ offices so they could urgently relocate us. While we were pondering this, one lady sheepishly suggested that we clean up the place. Most of us wanted to beat her up right there and then. But then one voice sheepishly agreed, followed by another and then another.
In a line we marched back to Reception and asked if at all they stocked blooms, bucket, mops and disinfectants. They eagerly led us to a small room at the back of the building which was fully stocked with all kinds of utensils and cleaners. We were shocked, again, as to how they could stock so much and yet clean up so little!
Armed with all we needed we spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up our rooms, bathrooms including the stench stained men’s urinaries. We even went so far as sweeping up the courtyard. We were turning the place into ours and making it as pleasant as possible so we could be ‘all there’ without sharing our emotions with here and home.
At the appointed time in the evening we went down to the kitchen for our supper. The staff were punctual and soon we were enjoying our meal. But the plates were kind of tinted; we tried to ignore this but finally had to admit the fact that the plates were not thoroughly clean. There were some places we could not clean...
We needed God and we needed Him badly. We went into the lounge and we sat and wept and then sang to the Lord out of our despair. ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion..’ (Psalm 137:1) God stirred up the hearts three ladies in our midst. One led us through songs of praise and worship, the other led us in prayer and the other preached the Word. Then we went to our rooms and slept.
That conference turned out to be one of the best Holy Spirit filled conferences I have ever attended. The devil wanted to crush our spirits before we even began so we could grumble and murmur all week long and miss out on the good that God had waiting for us. The devil comes to steal and destroy the abundance of joy and blessings that God has in store for us (John 10:10).
Every morning we would rise up early and have breakfast at 6am on dirty plates and come back in the evening in time for supper at 7pm again on dirty plates. But what was in between the day was the most important of all - the Word of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit and ministry through praise, prayer and healing.
I want to thank God for showing us how to be all there so that we would not miss the good that He had in store for us.
What about you? Are you grumbling and mumbling because of the long hours at work which are very poorly rewarded? Be all there for God’s glory. Or is it a below expectation marriage relationship? Be all there for God’s glory. An illness that limits your potential, a challenge in resources that stops you from achieving bigger, a church that will not acknowledge your gifting... Be all there in your situation for God’s glory. Take, eat and enjoy everything that God has put on your plate – for His glory.