Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shoes in a pot

I've been thinking a lot about SK lately...squeezed in between thinking about the elders, J and all the medical issues we face on a daily basis.  SK and many of her friends are a little over a semester away from being out in the 'real' world, and a whole lot of them haven't any more than their dreams, passions, and the faintest idea of where those things will take them.  It's not a very comfortable place to be.  Downright scary, if they're honest about it.

A few days ago I was looking through old pictures and came across a whole bunch of her with her close friend, MC.  MC, a clever, funny, talented young woman has been part of SK's life since they were squirrelly middle-schoolers going to youth group retreats, racing through the church and giving fits to their poor leaders who were just trying to teach them about Jesus.  Somewhere along the way, these girls became very good friends, enough that when MC and her dad went to Mexico for a family reunion one February, they invited SK along as their guest.

This trip was only one of about six trips to Mexico these girls took during their high school years.  A summer didn't pass that they didn't pack their bags and their hearts and travel south of the border to share Jesus with the children of Uruapan, Mexico.  And though they'd grown up since their middle school years, they still managed to be somewhat squirrelly, and I know for a fact that streaking was one of their yearly rituals.  As was the cake they shared as they drove out of Ensenada toward the border.  Don't ask me why, but somehow that first mission trip, they bought a cake together, realized they had no utensils and simply dove into it with their hands and faces as they traveled back toward the old US of A.  Here's a photo to prove it:

By the happy co-incidence that is no co-incidence at all but God's perfect plan, these girls ended up at the same university.  MC, a year behind SK in school, is an over-achiever so will graduate next May with SK.  And though her future is already mapped out to a certain extent (as I said, she's an over-achiever!), there's still plenty for each of these old friends to worry and wonder and hope and pray about in these last months of college.  Where will they end up?  How will God take care of all the details?  Does He really know and care and have everything firmly in hand for them?  These are questions most college seniors ask.  Shoot, these are questions we ask at every age, whenever something new looms before us and we have to trust Him completely.  
These pictures of SK and MC in Mexico spurred a very specific memory of that time that might just help.  It's one they'll remember, I'm sure.  But here it is:  The first year we went to Uruapan, our very large, multi-generational mission team, we had asked our church to donate clothing for the orphans we'd be visiting when we got to the Ensenada area.  We gathered many large boxes of clothing and, along with the construction equipment, medical supplies, kitchen stuff we needed, we sent them in a large trailer with the man in charge of the mission property where we would stay.  Darrell Graham arranged the construction jobs, set up the medical work, helped us with the VBS.  He was the liason with all things Mexico, so to speak.  And had taken such boxes of clothing over the border many, many times before.  However, that summer when he got to the border at Tijuana, the border guards told him, "NO!"  Resoundingly.  They did not want those used clothes coming into their country. So Darrell rented a storage unit and left all the clothing.

We got down to the mission, unloaded all of our equipment, including the giant pot Beve and I had brought from our own kitchen. (Just so you know, this property sits on a hill overlooking a valley that always making me think of Israel, complete with olive trees.  The view is spectacular, especially at the edges of the day, and the cacti are abundant and flower in glorious array all over the front of the veranda, and I have to say, those first moments there were like stepping into paradise! Really) Anyway, that pot sat in the back hallway of the mission for several days.  And during those days we got to know the caretaker of the property, a woman named Angela, a single mom who only got paid when people stayed there.  She has two children a daughter and small son, both of whom were wearing out their clothes.  In fact, her son's shoes were so small, she'd cut the ends off of them so he could wear them longer.  About the third day at the mission, we needed the pot for something, so I went and found it and opened it up.  And inside were a single pair of children's shoes.  Never worn.  And let me tell you--they did NOT come from our house!  Frankly, none of us had the faintest idea where they'd come from. But--and you probably know where this is going--those shoes were the perfect size for Chris, Angela's son.  I mean, just right so he had room to grow into them through the year, like a child's shoes should.  It was AMAZING!  When he put them on, Chris started dancing, Angela was clapping and I felt like crying.  What a holy, holy moment.  I think it forged something between Angela and me that has lasted, even though we haven't seen each other many times since.  We both recognized that God had moved, that He had worked on behalf of one very small boy.

Those shoes in that pot.  God kept those shoes in that pot exactly for that small boy who absolutely needed them.  This is the God who had brought us to that place.  A God who can put and keep shoes in a pot.  When you wonder if God is paying attention to your small concerns, if you aren't quite sure whether He is really in charge of your life, there's always this image of shoes in a pot.  I still don't know how they got there.  I don't suppose I'll ever know.  But I do.  The God who cares about every detail of our needs put them there.

So, SK, MC and all the rest of you who are graduating or moving on, or have big decisions ahead of you, every detail of your needs.  Shoes in the pot, just the right size.  Whatever it is you need Him to do, it isn't too small for Him, and you aren't too insignificant.  He specializes in things exactly your size.

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