Friday, May 27, 2011

No Thanks

This past Saturday we gave away about 500 gardens to families in the community.  The idea was to help families in need experience the love of Christ with nutrition and education.  It was a great day.  We had a wonderful time distributing gardens and blessing families.  Almost everyone who received a garden thanked us immensely...almost everyone.  

It's amazing how people can get angry at you for not meeting their standards while doing a free service for them. Several of the addresses submitted to us had errors.  People had either not given us their apartment numbers or moved and didn't tell us or something else.  We had to hold off on delivering about 200 gardens until we could settle the list.  So, that night we sent out a phone message apologizing for the inconvenience and asking for address confirmations.  No problem, right?  It's free.  It's going to be a little late.  Hope you understand.  

Our phones started ringing off the hook.  Many were happy to confirm addresses, but just a few weren't.  In fact a few were really upset that they had waited all day for a garden that didn't come.  I felt bad, but we had no control over the situation.  Our volunteers, many of whom sacrificed money, time and gasoline to help stayed out hours past the time they had committed.  We did everything we could, but in the end we had to stop to correct the incorrect addresses we had received.

Keep in mind that most people were completely understanding and just happy to be getting a garden.  Then there were those few who got upset with my assistant who was taking the calls.  Some people were just down right mean to her (Which, by the way really upsets me. Picking on Teresa is a lot like talking bad about my mom.  I start to get defensive.)  Of course, Teresa is awesome and maintained a tone of kindness and respect regardless of how she was being treated.  In fact, she was even kind to one woman who complained that we were delivering the gardens during "prime Saturday time".  As if to say, "You expect me to stay home from partying to receive this free stuff," forgetting that the volunteers were giving up their "prime Saturday time" too.  

I just couldn't fathom how selfish someone could be as to complain about charity.  When I thought about how our church members had sacrificed to pay for these gardens and given up their time to make the project happen, I got a little discouraged.  

Are people really experiencing the love of Christ if they react like that?  Are we really making a difference or just getting ourselves into a lot of work?  

Sometimes I forget why we serve.  Believe it or not, blessing people is not why we serve.  Sure, it should be a part of it, but it isn't the reason.  Ephesians 6:7 says "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men." While my acts of service benefit people, they are done to the glory of God.  I serve people, not because I want to deserve their thanks, but because God deserves glory.  When I start looking for thanks, I lose sight of the One I am really serving.  

When I really think about it, the fullest extent of Jesus' servanthood was not recieved with thanks but with violence and mockery (Phillippians 2).  

We are going to distribute those last 200 gardens June 6th (Let me know if you want to help).  It makes me feel good to know that every garden given (whether the recipient is overwhelmed with thanksgiving or callously unthankful) will bring glory to God.  That's why we do it, and its worth every phone call, every smile and every sunburn (which we had a lot of last week).  

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