It has only been 13 days. 13 days since I said goodbye to my people. 13 days since I left my favorite place on earth. It feels like it has been months.
On Monday, August 22, I came home from serving for a month at Washington Family Ranch Creekside in Antelope, Oregon.
I knew that work crew would be the best month of my life. But I didn’t know that it would be like this.
I was a housekeeper, which means that I spent my days cleaning toilets, scrubbing showers, folding laundry, and all that goodness. I know what you are probably thinking. Trust me, I felt that way too, at first, but the Lord used this job and that month to humble me and change me in indescribable ways.
When we purposefully cleaned while campers weren’t around and were told to stay hidden at times, it was very easy to feel unseen and unnoticed.
But I will never forget the moment when I was leaning over a toilet, wiping it repeatedly so that it would be perfectly clean, and I heard it for the first time.
The Lord whispered into my heart that HE saw what I was doing when no one else did, that HE delighted in me, and that HE rejoiced in the lives that were being changed because of the work that we were doing. He told me that He was well pleased with me, not because I earned it, but because I was HIS.
And when we couldn’t always immediately see the fruit of the work that we were doing (especially because our job didn’t have much camper interaction), it was very easy to feel like I was laboring in vain.
But I will never forget when I first heard it read aloud while sitting on the floor in our housekeeping building. It was Isaiah 49 –
“And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.” And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him—for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen YOU.” (v.3-7)
And then each week, I got to witness middle schoolers come totally UNDONE before the Lord after our work crew presentation, and then those same kids had the opportunity to walk up and put their name on a cross if they committed/rededicated their life to Jesus that week.
1500 different names were written on a cross over the course of the month that I was at Creekside. 1500.
And I got to scrub their toilets. And empty their trash. And fold their laundry.
I didn’t have to, but I got to.
I mean this wholeheartedly: I would scrub toilets for the REST OF MY LIFE if just ONE person would come to know Jesus through it.
Because THAT is how little it is about me and how much ALL of this is about Him.
I am nothing. Not because I have no sense of self-worth. Trust me, through a long process He has taught me (and is still teaching me) who I am in Him.
But He is EVERYTHING. He is the Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End. The First and the Last.
Take heart, friends: This changes EVERYTHING.