Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What's Your Part?

In my observation of humanity, most people who have grown up in healthy homes and have not experienced a great deal of trauma, are interested in doing their part to make the world a better place.  Sure, there are things that throw people off track.... crisis, addiction, anxiety and depression, etc.... but when human beings are in a healthy place, they usually want to give back and do their part.  The challenge is in knowing exactly what that part is.

How much do you know about the book of Nehemiah?  I have loved it since I was a teenager because it's about a dude that got a whole bunch of people together to take on a huge project.  A few people, I don't know if we would call them his friends, tried their best to discourage him, but he got it done.

Even before my teen years, doing just that has been a part of my personality and some of my favorite moments in life have been when a team I led pulled off something amazing.   I orchestrated a back yard theatre sometime before I was ten where we had a bedspread over the clothesline and all of the children came to my yard where I directed them and my little brothers in several theatrical performances.   My favorite was when I somehow convinced my little brother Nathan to be Goldilocks.  All of the parents in the neighborhood came to every performance.  We had chairs set up, we served snacks.  It was awesome.

Move ahead about 20 years and I got it in my head that the student body at then Bartlesville Wesleyan College could raise $5,000 in six weeks to help paint and furnish a missionary's home in Mexico.  The college president, who is my lifetime mentor and friend, knowing exactly how to mentor me, told me there was NO WAY we could raise $5,000.   Instead we raised over 8,000 and those raising the highest amount took a missions trip down to do the painting ourselves.  I still remember vividly the day we presented the check to the missionaries in chapel.   One of my favorite memories.

Jump ahead another 20 years and there was a huge need for foster parents in Minneapolis, but my Bethany budget wouldn't allow any additional funds to start a foster care program.  So my team did it anyway, and now the program flourishes with me miles away.

So you see why I love Nehemiah.   Yesterday I was listening to it again, and some very simple verses from Chapter Three, that most people would never base a devotional or a sermon on, stuck out to me.

Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab rebuilt another section that included the Tower of Furnaces. Working next to him was Shallum son of Hallohesh, mayor of the other half-district of Jerusalem, along with his daughters.The Valley Gate was rebuilt by Hanun and villagers of Zanoah; they repaired it, hung its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. They went on to repair 1,500 feet of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.The Dung Gate itself was rebuilt by Malkijah son of Recab, the mayor of the district of Beth Hakkerem; he repaired it, hung its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.
You're probably thinking that the fact that it was called the Dung Gate stuck out to be, but it wasn't that.   What struck me was that each person knew their part.   It doesn't stop there.... in fact this description goes for 33 full verses and is the entirety of chapter three.

It would be so cool if God simply met us at the beginning of our lives and said, "You're part in life is to rebuild the Dung Gate.   That's your job."

Instead, He says to us, "You have a  part to play.  In fact, you have several parts to play in changing this world and making it a better place.   As your life unfolds, what I want you to do will unfold.  Just take one step at a time.

It is our job to show up, take the next step, and find out what our part is and where our place is in this world.  .   And then, when we finish that part, we look for the next part, the next place.  It's the way God intended us for live and it's an amazing adventure.  This song has been a favorite since it came out.  Doesn't he look young!  Yikes, I guess we both were back then.

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