Our church has started a campaign called "Blessed to Bless"--meaning we, as followers of Christ, need to be obedient and cheerful servants and show His love and spread the Gospel through giving above and beyond our normal tithe. It's a way to show our faith and trust in God--being as this is a difficult time economically in our country and many people are without jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. This effort has many different ways that it is going to show God's love and be a light to the world. We are raising money to build a new children's building--because of the amount of people coming into the church--we need more space for the precious children that are being brought in. Some of the money is also being allotted for special things like the Rescue Mission, Salem Pregnancy Center, Storehouse for Jesus, as well as these buckets that we built today. They had told us about these buckets a while back. The buckets cost $100 to make and contain 21 items that help a caregiver in Africa take care of a person suffering from Aids. The items range anywhere from sheets, towels, toothbrush and toothpaste to a scrub brush, cleaning gloves, and drinking straws. Each item is to help aid the caregiver in helping to make the suffering person feel more comfortable. While we were packing the bucket, it took very careful packing to make sure everything fit into the bucket. We were also praying over each item as it went into the bucket. At the end, 330 of us had created 100 buckets to send to Africa. We were all broken up into 6 sections and then into even small teams with our section. I built a bucket with my parents. After our buckets were completed and we put the lids on them, we prayed over them. Our pastor wanted us to pray for the following things over the bucket--comfort for the person who was the victim of Aids, the salvation of both the victim and their family, as well as courage for the person who was going to be giving the bucket. As we were praying, I was to pray for the comfort of the person who would be receiving the care from the items in our bucket. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and struggled to get through my prayer as I cried. I tend to shy away from showing emotion like that in public, but it was not something that I could help. But it really began to break down some of the walls that I have built up around myself. I do not like to cry in front of people. I don't like people seeing me in such a broken state. Expressing emotions through tears is something that I like to do privately. But as I've gotten older, I've gotten more publicly emotional. I'm turning into my mother. Crying at weddings, graduations, baby dedications, baptisms. I guess it's not a bad thing, but I still don't like for people to see me that way. But it's time to be more free to express my emotions. It's time I stop trying to mask how I feel and who I am. God is really trying to break me of a lot of things and He's showing me in big ways how incredibly selfish and needy of a person I am. I feel the need to have an abundance of 'stuff'. Whether it be clothes, shoes, movies, music, electronics, a new car. I'm even more greedy than I ever thought I was. Pride is starting to show its nasty face. I don't like it. I also don't like how close-minded I still am. How could I not feel any emotion for people who are suffering horrible things like famine, disease, genocide. Thousands upon thousands of children are orphaned everyday. I cannot even begin to imagine being orphaned. Especially at such a young age, as many of these poor helpless children in Africa. Here I sit in my middle class family sized home, with heat, electricity, the comforts of a nice soft, warm bed; food in the kitchen; running water; and a family who loves me. How can I be so selfish to think that I don't need to be mindful of the suffering people in my world. I'm being brought down on my face as I begin to thank God for all the blessings He has so graciously given me. I want to change and be a better person. I want to feel. I want to help. I want to tell the world about the hurting people and how they can help them. I also want to tell the hurting world about the hope and saving grace of Jesus Christ. It's who I was made to be. I was made to reflect God's goodness. I was created to bring Him glory and bring Him joy. He chose to create us. He doesn't need us. But He created us with a purpose. He loves us, but He doesn't have to. Although there are many people who will reject Him, He still loves us despite that rejection. Our lives are to reflect who God is. We are to reflect love, hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace, justice, joy, gentleness, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. [notice the fruits of the spirit] This is how we are to treat our world. We are to show love by being kind and taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves. We are to show hope by telling everyone of the great story of God's faithfulness to us in keeping His promise of sending His Son to die to pay the penalty for our sin and taking care of the debt that we owed--that we could never ever repay.
Tonight, I am thankful. Thankful for the experience I had to today. Building that bucket helped to open my eyes to the world. The world in which there are millions of hurting and dying people. People dying not just a physical death, but a spiritual death. I may be hurting and suffering different trials, but I am not the only person who is hurting, and my hurts do not compare to the hurts of the world. I am not dying of Aids, I am not orphaned, and I am not homeless or jobless. I have so many blessings, and not enough willingness to give. I want to start giving more of myself. Being someone who is going to make a difference in the world. No matter how small a difference that is. I hope that I made a difference today with the bucket that will be sent to a person in Africa. I will never meet this person, now I pray that I can say that someday I will in Heaven--but I do not know. I hope that for whoever is reading this is challenged to be mindful of all the many blessings that God gives you each and every day. I have been redirected. I'm looking forward to this new direction in my life. I hope that my life will reflect Christ's love and His compassion for the hurting people. He came to give of Himself and to see our most important need met. It's all because of Him, that we have hope and can have eternal life. It's only through Him that we can live abundantly and have a great joy and have a peace that surpasses our own understanding. He's not a god whose going to leave us or forsake us. He will always be here for us. I praise God for that. I know I don't deserve it, but I'm so thankful for that. He's constant. He forgives. He rescues. He heals. He comforts. He provides. He protects. He loves, unconditionally.
You're powerful above this world
The universe is under Your command
Your glory shines a holy light
That leads our hearts to praise
Your holy name is on our lips
Beautiful Jesus, beautiful Savior
Nothing is greater, brilliant Creator, Friend of mine
Perfect in power, matchless in glory
Nothing is greater, brilliant Creator, Friend of mine