One of the biggest challenges we have in life, is in determining how we allow ourselves to be used by God in his great work for others. How do we love our neighbor, how do we serve our community, how do we teach our children, or how do we take part in building a new community? And even if we do know “How” to do this work, the question can often become, “when”. There are seasons in life where perhaps we are called to focus more than usual on things like family, or career, or our relationships. Maybe we have a newborn at home, a completely new career, or facing a new chapter in retirement. What then?
To be honest, the answer is different for different people. God uses us in his time, not ours. He uses us in ways that are beyond our own imagination, even if that opportunity is staring us right in the face. And so, when I think of this challenge which we all face, I am reminded of Nehemiah. A man who took a new direction in life, to use what he knew, for God’s great work.
The book of Nehemiah tells us the story of how Nehemiah, a member of the royal court, volunteered to leave his job so he could return to his home and rebuild his place of worship – the city of Jerusalem. It wasn’t any easy task and Nehemiah encountered many obstacles. Over and over attempts were made to interrupt his work for God. And yet his response was simply, “I am doing a great work, I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3). In spite of his challenges and his environment, he completed the rebuilding in only 52 days. And after the city was rebuilt, the community was restored.
And so, when I hear this story I am reminded of my friend Lee Portwood. Lee is a former consultant and executive at Christus Mother Frances Hospital. One of his responsibilities was developing and managing teams for the building and opening of new Christus facilities. He hired and worked with contractors and project managers. Every time I saw Lee he was in a suit and on his way to doing something really exciting for the hospital.
But God decided it was time for a change and Lee retired from doing some really great work. But God wanted him to take part in His great work. And so he did. Driving by the new Dayspring Flint campus I found Lee, in shorts and an old baseball cap – that had seen some better days. Lee wasn’t directing a team, or typing out a strategy. He was scraping paint and fixing windows. And he was loving it! Lee was using everything he knew and learned in life and career, but using it in the way God wanted and in God’s time.
Dayspring Flint is a church that is over 100 years old. It is a beautiful church in an amazing community. It’s a place that has seen many baptisms, marriages, and fellowship gatherings. Yet over time, like all things, it needed renewal. And so, an opportunity unveiled itself. And while it won’t be completely rebuilt in 52 days, it will be rebuilt by October, which is simply amazing!
I love how God, can use ordinary people like you and I, and Lee, to do his great work. That we don’t have to do anything extraordinary or miraculous to take part in his kingdom building. We simply need to grab a paint scraper, pick up a shovel, or grab a broom. We simply need to listen, and wait, and then climb up that wall. I am excited about Dayspring Flint and I hope to see you there one Saturday as we work together with God in making all things new.