Monday, June 17, 2013

Finders Keepers: Obeying God When No One Else is Looking

Week after week, the children and I are out there with our pastor and a couple other brothers and sisters, our well-worn shoes pounding the pavement.  Thursday mornings will find our small group canvasing the neighborhoods within a five mile radius of our church.

At eight a.m. when we hit the streets, most people have already gone to work, so we've grown accustomed to greeting more dogs and cats than humans as we stuff Bible tracts in the edge of every house's front door.  Other than my children's ever-present chatter and my few words of spoken prayer, the only sounds are those of the early morning birds singing high on the rooftops and the squeak of rubber tennis shoes on the pavement.

This is my Jerusalem.

For two years, I've set my alarm early and left Scripture for more strangers than I can count, believing in my heart that God will remain true to His promise which says, "My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do" (Is. 55:11).

Success is obedience to obey God and the Great Commission of Acts 1:8.  It's not results.  

I've become one of those Christians I once labelled as "crazy" during my teenage years, the kind of Christian who puts herself out there as completely sold out to Jesus, who hands out the Word of God in and out of season...even when she sees no massive (or even small) revival as a result.

Still, sometimes, my flesh wants results.  Some days, it would be nice to see a new couple visit our church because we cared enough to invite them.  It would do my heart wonders to hear that someone turned his life to Jesus because of the Word of God we left for him.  In other words, it would be nice to know not THAT my service matters but to see just HOW that service was used by God.

But that's not how it works, not usually anyway.

Two weeks ago, our church was preparing for Vacation Bible School.  Instead of our usual one hour per week, we prayer walked four times in one week, leaving tracts and VBS invites throughout several of the big neighborhoods.

On day four, I was having to encourage, cajole, and handhold the twins to get them to just. move.  Living in South Louisiana where the heat index has already exceeded 100 degrees and the humidity is even higher, even an 8 am walk is a recipe for dehydration if you're not careful. 

By the one hour mark, we had seen nobodyNot one person.  Our group would normally meet one or two people walking their dogs, running, or leaving for work, but this neighborhood was like a ghost town...likely due to the heat.

The twins had already given up the pretense of helping and sat on the sidewalk to wait while I approached yet another cookie cutter house.  That's when I noticed it--a watch, lying deep in the overgrown grass.

As soon as I picked it up, I knew this wasn't a Wal-mart special.  It was heavy, the kind like you would buy at a jewelers.  On the front was a circle of encrusted fake diamonds surrounding the opalescent face with a series of hands and dials.  Flipping it on its back, I noted the clasp, the fancy name brand and that it was stainless steel.   

As horrible as it sounds, the thought popped into my head that I could just slip the watch into my pocket and no one would ever know.  It was on the ground.  By the road.  It could belong to anyone.  Maybe not even the person in this house.  Finders, keepers....right? 

Three steps later, I was at the door.  A chair sat beside it, just waiting for me.  I sighed.  Even if this were one of those ethical gray areas, my conscience would never allow me to enjoy the watch.  It simply wasn't mine.  And if it didn't belong to this person?  Then, that was on his conscience.

I carefully placed the watch on the chair, slipped the Bible tract in the door's edge, and went back down the sidewalk.  I reached the main road and turned to move on to the next house, then did a double take in surprise.  The door behind me opened and out walked a man dressed in a white button-down shirt, tie, and dress slacks.

As he bent to pick up the fallen tract, I called back at him, pointed to the watch I found in the grass, and told him we were praying for the neighborhoods.

He expressed his thanks (and surprise) for my finding the watch, and the children and I moved on.

Hot and sweaty as I was, I suddenly found myself with  goosebumps.  This was the first person I had laid eyes on the entire morning, and it "just so happened" to be at the house where I had been faced with an ethical dilemma.

I had been thinking about results, about whether I would ever know if my distributing these tracts had any impact on others.  And here I was, being humbled by my Father who was showing me that this was today's result.

 I wonder if my honesty will impact that man at all.  Or was it all a lesson just for me, to remind me that even when I see no results in others or in my own life, my Father is ever watching my faithfulness, ever testing me to make me more like Christ?

Too many times, I think I get it all wrong, my wondering how I'm impacting others with my service when I don't even see how my service is impacting me.

We prefer to see ourselves as the one who is ministering, giving to others, not the one needing to be ministered to, not the ones needing to be perfected in Christ.  They need help, not us.  

 Yet, the deeper I look, the more I'm seeing that each time I seek to do for others, my service is actually doing more to impact who I am in Christ. 


  1. So true. Growth is a direct result of no-holds barred obedience.

  2. Wow. Good insight. We aren't always the heroes of the faith that we think we are..