This weekend our family did a service project with our church in a trailer park as a community outreach. The main goals for the day were to spruce up the basketball court which was located in the park, to do projects for people in the community who needed help, and to go door to door and invite people to a free barbecue with food and bounce houses later in the day.
We first worked on the basketball courts. We did some edging on the courts which I am not sure had ever been done. We repainted the poles, put new chains on the hoops, painted free throw lines, etc. We next split up into teams to go door to door to invite people to the barbecue event. The community was reported to have 360+ homes in it.
My son, whom God made a leader, loved this part. He wanted to be the one to do the talking at each home. When the time came for the barbecue, he was disappointed. Only about 15 people came out of all the homes we had visited. He was discouraged. He said, “Mom, that was a waste of time. We did all that work and not very many people came. People said they were going to come and didn’t come.” I told him, “You cannot measure this event as a success or not by how many people showed up for the barbecue. God’s ways are not our ways. His purpose could have been totally different than ours. It might have been to reach just one person in this neighborhood. We don’t know.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” Nathan’s thoughts for a successful outreach (and I have to admit my belief to an extent too) was a big turnout at the barbecue. That was not necessarily God’s goal.
* Maybe it was to feed someone who was running low on food on that very day.
* Maybe it was to fix the basketball court which will encourage a boy to start to play basketball which could lead to a future college scholarship to pay for college which his family could not have afforded for him.
* Maybe it was to ignite a spark for the love of outreach in the heart of a young child.
* Maybe it was to push me out of my comfort zone to reach out and serve my community.
* Maybe it was to help someone see the fruits of real Christianity when in their past they have had bad experiences with or judgements from Christians.
* Maybe it was to develop and build stronger relationships between the people who attend our church by working together.
* Maybe it was to speak to someone who lives alone and has no family. Genesis 2:18 says, “…It is not good for man to be alone…”
* Maybe it was to mow someone’s grass which would plant a seed of curiosity about our church and/or Christianity which would eventually develop into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
* Maybe it was to get a better idea of the demographics of the community so we could reach them better next time.
* Maybe it was to see how many elderly homebound people there were and to be thankful for mobility and youth.
* Maybe, just maybe, it was to be thankful for the young lady who gave of her time to sit with me in a cabin in Tennessee who lead me to say a prayer to accept Jesus as my Savior. Where would I be without that prayer?
God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His purposes are not our purposes. The only thing I know is we are called to serve Him, to reach out to people, to feed them, and to love them right where they are. Was the service project a success? In my eyes, yes. We served a community. We mowed grass for some people who needed it. We fed people who came. We developed deeper relationships with the people in our own church. We met new people in the community. But I have no doubt that God sees it differently with His own eyes. He, and only He, can see or know the real purpose of why we were there. And that is good enough for me.