We arrived in the blistering heat of the day…but then again…July couldn’t really be any other way in northern Mexico. Having grown up in the tundra regions of Minnesota, that kind of oppressive heat makes me want to do nothing but…sleep…hidden in an air conditioned, scorpion-less corner…and sleep. However, that is not why I was there. I was leading a team of high school students on a missions experience in Sabinas Hidalgo, Mexico. Our responsibilities included ministry to children, handing out supplies to poor areas of the community, and work projects around the orphanage at which we were serving. These work projects included painting, mixing concrete, putting up fences, tearing down the same fences…and hauling five mountains of rocky soil across the five acre plot with a single wheel barrow, three spades and two square scoop shovels.
Each morning we would awake to a breakfast of black beans and eggs, grab our water bottles and drag ourselves to the class five quarry. The work would begin with a few shovels slamming into the rocky side of mounds of earth…followed by a few groans…which continued until a wheel barrow was loaded and hauled across the lot, then dumped it the opposite corner. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Our team spent five days doing this same thing…over and over…moving five, dump truck loads of dirt from one corner of the property to another.
After five days we were exhausted…crabby…and ready to be finished with what seemed to be an endless and pointless job. It was at about this time that a large road grater pulled onto the property…dropped its blade, and in about fifteen minutes finished a job that had taken us five days. While the grater finished its work…we took the team over to paint the walls of the orphanage.
As we loaded the bus to depart the orphanage from our ten days of work, I considered a few thoughts on service.
- 1. Motivation Matters. It was difficult to be and stay motivated on a job that felt like we were going nowhere. What motivates us?
- 2. Gifts matter. Our team did not have the most efficient tools to finish the task at hand. Yet, once the correct “tool” arrived…the project came to fruition.
- 3. Service is costly. We spent hours doing a job that overall could have been done in about fifteen minutes. We wasted hour upon hour. I will never get those hours back. In fairness, I would have likely just used them to sleep or check my social media status.
- 4. Most importantly, the Holy Spirit matters. Col. 3:23, says “Whatever you do, do it with all of your soul as unto the Lord.” I don’t think I can do that without the work of the Holy Spirit in me. It is once again an issue of heart change. I think that each day I find more and more need for the Holy Spirit to continue the work that He has begun in me…to change my heart that I might finish the work that the Lord as appointed for me.
I think we see this truth in Acts. 20:18-21:16. Paul is encouraging the church elders from Ephesus. In doing so, he lays out…how he has served…why he has served…how he will continue to serve…and the encouragement for these elders to do the same.
May we find the Holy Spirit empowering us to serve, burdening us to serve, and changing our hearts to serve…whole heartedly as unto the Lord.
As the bus pulled away from the building…I couldn’t help but notice the graded mounds of dirt…and the peeling paint on the front of the building. May the Lord take our service for his glory…and not our own.