Monday, September 11, 2006

The God of the Parking Lot

Sometimes, the Lord makes Himself known in the least expected places. Think of Balaam's donkey...who would think that the Lord would get Balaam's attention through the rebuke of an animal? Think of Elijah...we expect the Lord to be in the mountain-destroying wind, the earthquake, or the fire, right? However, it is the gentle whisper through which God spoke. Jonah was blown away by the idea that God would extend forgiveness in a place like Ninevah. The appearance of the Messiah as a humble Savior rather than a revolutionary crusader meant that Jesus was not recognized or received by His own.

When you think of how God works in this world, what do you think of? Do you think of great revivals or Billy Graham crusades? Do you think of multi-million dollar complexes being erected in the name of church expansion? What about missionaries being sent all over the world to reach the unreached millions? What about some sweaty, aching men and women resurfacing a parking lot? WHAT?!? Did that last question really fit with the others? It did this last Saturday.

God showed up when a group of men and women set out to improve our stewardship of this church property by resurfacing the parking lot. One of the things we are doing in our congregation is making an intentional effort to be better stewards of the property God has entrusted to us. Many repairs and improvements will need to be made, but we already had money set aside for this parking lot project. Originally, the money was to go to repaving...not enough money. Ok...we could consider hiring someone to resurface...again, not enough money. Well, we did have enough money to buy the supplies and do the work ourselves. So, at 8 AM this last Saturday several of our people were here, ready to get started.

After about 2 1/2 hours, it became very apparent that they would not finish half the lot...which was the goal for the day. About that time, a man named Daniel came strolling across the parking lot. He asked what we were doing, and the leader of the bunch told him. Daniel walked away...then, he came back a little while later with long boots on and equipment to do the job. It turns out that Daniel resurfaces parking lots for a living, and he decided he wanted to help. He was told that we couldn't pay him, but he didn't want it. They tried to feed him, but he wouldn't accept it. The group even tried to offer money at the end of the day, but he said the only way he would take it is to buy patching material so he could help finish the job in the coming week.

In those first 2 1/2 hours, our crew only got about 10% of the work done. In the next 2 1/2 hours, the other 90% was taken care of, with the promise of more help to come (watch out...there could be an illustration in there somewhere). Our men and women showed up that day knowing that there was a big job ahead of them. It was an overwhelming task. All they could do was be faithful to the task at hand...improving our stewardship of this property by improving the lot. In taking those steps of faithfulness, God blessed them with the help they needed to complete that day's task and more.

What do you know? God showed up in a parking lot! Mixed with the stain of resurfacing material and the sweat of the day's work were tears of joy, knowing that God had provided what we could not do ourselves. Who would have guessed that a day of potential disappointment would turn out to be an inspiring testimony to a whole congregation the very next day?

Do you feel like your just in a rut of daily living? Do you feel like what you do is no more important than parking lot maintenance? Do you feel like you are giving blood, sweat, and tears to what you do without seeing any results? Be faithful in what the Lord has given you to do, and trust the Lord for the rest...for the blessing...for the Daniel.