Revelation 3:8 "I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me". This week I have been spending a lot of time pondering failure vs. success. Why? Because Saturday, in my opinion, was a disaster. We had our first Kids' class of the year. We ended the year with about 25 children regularly attending. So as I was preparing for Saturday I planned for 35 (even though I was doubtful that we would have that many new-comers). As Oscar pulled in I was elated to see many new faces. My elation was short lived, though as I counted the children as they filed into our patio. 47 children! 47! I immediately ran to the copy machine. I had to print out 15 more copies of the art project, 15 copies of the Bible lesson, and 15 copies of the English lesson. Praise God I had enough ink and paper on hand! Then my mind went to the food. I had prepared a lentil stew. It smelled delicious but there was no where near enough. My mind raced to the mistake I had made the previous week. I ordered 840 oodles and noodles rather than 420. Up in our storage there was plenty of soup!! Praise God that mistake paid off. So good. My mind began to calm down and I called the children (ages ranging from 3-18) to order. The Bible lesson went well. We learned about the triumphal entry. The children were interested and engaged. We even did a drama to act out the story. After that we had a snack and a time of recreation. This is where things started to fall apart. The older kids wanted to play basket ball. The youngest children wanted to play in the club house. There were too many young children to fit in the club house so the leaked out into our basketball area which upset the older kids. One of our quick thinking leaders organized a group game that included all ages. Phew. When it was time for English class I was pretty much wiped out and on edge. I called the kids to order. The older kids took there seats, but the many young children did not. It took some coaxing but finally I got all of them in the same area and seated. As this is our second year, our English lessons are starting to get a bit more complicated. The younger children immediately lost interest. The older kids became frustrated over the constant interruptions as I tried to engage the younger children. I was frustrated and just wanted to end the class. Finally 12:00 came along. I had survived. More importantly, they had survived. I walked into the house and immediately realized that I had not communicated to my ever faithful servant of a husband that we were serving oodles and noodles rather than the stew. He was praying over the bowls of stew. Asking God to multiply!! He had 25 bowls of stew and not a drop more. As I said "oops" He shot me a look as if to say "do you know how stressed I've been about making sure these kids eat?" That was it for me. FAILURE was stamped in my mind. When the kids finally ate, cleaned up and left I went to my room alone and let one tear roll down my cheek. I began to pray. Well, if I'm being honest the first thing I did was take inventory of what I could have done differently. Maybe if I prayed for an hour instead of 45 minutes before the class. Maybe if I had more faith that God would bring 50 kids to us....Then I prayed. As I prayed God brought me back about 5 years ago. I was hosting a team of missionaries. We did an evangelistic out reach in a community. We were planning on 100 children and 300 showed up. (I may be off a little on the numbers) These were the most unruly children I have ever seen. We didn't have enough food by a long shot. We couldn't get them to sit quietly or still to save our lives. It was total chaos. I recall someone saying to me, when it was all said and done, "that was an epic fail". Ouch. God reminded me that out of that "epic fail" little baby Anderson came to live at Esther's House for almost 5 years. Anderson who was one missed meal away from death. Anderson who at 9 months old was wearing the clothes of a 3 month old. Anderson with a limp and lifeless leg. Today Anderson is 5 years old. He is healthy and happy. He walks and runs. We watched God heal his foot and leg and we watched him take his first step at 18 months. You see, what's been going through my head this week is not that I failed or that I'm a failure. It's more that what we perceive as failure, God sees as success. I was reminded that I can't judge what happens here in my life by my standards. To me Saturday was hard. I don't know how God will use that or whose life will be touched. I just know that nothing I do means anything if I don't let God work through it. By the way, we have now developed a plan to handle 50+ kids. We are confident that we nipped this in bud!
To learn more about Oscar and Beth Alegria and their ministry in El Salvador, please click here!
Faviola is 8 years old. I think she shares a fare amount of household responsibility for her age. She keeps her room clean, takes the trash out, sets and clears the table and is responsible for keeping the dogs' water dishes full. She does all of this without complaint. After a very busy week I noticed that our house was starting to get out of control. Floors need to be cleaned, dishes in the sink from yesterday and laundry out on the line.(I can see my mom cringing) As I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes and thinking about not only the house hold chores that were ahead of me, but the grocery shopping, and the urge I have to clean out storage bins and a little bit of office work that I need to finish I asked Favi if she would mind taking the clothes off of the line, folding them and putting them away. They were her clothes after all. She said "sure mom" with a smile on her face and ran outside to get her clothes. About 20 minutes later she came in and told me she had completed that chore. She was still smiling and very proud of herself. As I finished up the dishes I thought "Man, I've got a crazy kid. The more chores I give her the happier she is." I know when her dad gets home she'll be excited to tell him how she took her clothes off the line and folded them neatly. She'll tell him how I trusted her to do a grown up job. I'm thinking about it. As she gets older and more mature of course she should be able to take on more responsibility. It should be the same way with us and our Christian walk. The older we get; that is the more spiritual mature we become, the more responsibility we should be able to take on.
Many people comment on how they are amazed or concerned for how much Oscar and I have taken on in our ministry. It is true that we live very busy lives with little down time. As we mature and grow God knows He can give us a little more. The difference between Faviola and me is that I don't always take on more responsibility with a smile on my face. Sometimes I take on more feeling tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes I take on more with a bit of an attitude. Sometimes I wish we could take a vacation. Sometimes I wish we could spend several days at the beach. Please understand, I am not whining. I LOVE DOING WHAT I DO, but I am also human and have the same desires as every other person. I guess I'm saying all of this to say that today I learned from my 8 year old daughter. I need to be proud and honored when God sees that I am ready to take on more responsibility. I need to complete everything with a joyful attitude. There is a scripture verse that I memorized when I was a young child. Those of you who were raised in the Baptist Church in the 70s may remember a club called GMG- Girls Meeting God. It came before Awanas. Our theme verse was Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him". I stand on this verse many times throughout my days. I want to be a cheerful servant of Christ. Just like Favi will recount her day with her dad when he comes home this afternoon, I will recount my day with my Heavenly Father as I lay my head on my pillow to go to sleep tonight. I hope I have the same joy and pride in what I did as Faviola does. Ok, I need to get back to cleaning my house.....
To learn more about the Alegria's and their ministry, visit their website!