Just hours after I finished writing my last post about my friend leaving a trail of light, I received a precious Godwink. One of my ‘littles’ visiting from Texas handed me a thank you card which began, “Dear Joanie, You are the light in my world. I love when you take us to the dump and Dunkin’ Donuts…” It was a Divine reminder that we don’t have to be doing great things to make a difference. Who knew a trip to the dump could inspire such gratitude?
Brindley is not alone. A simple announcement, “I’m going to the dump,” is a rallying cry bringing more ‘littles’ then my car can legally hold – along with a smelly mound of garbage. So, what’s the attraction? Junk. There is a swap shop at the transfer station where we’ve unearthed treasures of all kinds. Coupled with a sugar chaser from Dunkin’ Donuts transforms a mundane errand into a magical moment. It was a tradition with my own children that continues with the next generation. What we are doing is less important than the conversations we have in the process. Making memories costs nothing but time, of which I have plenty.
That’s the beauty and dilemma of the second half of life. Unencumbered by the responsibilities of work and/or child-rearing, there is plenty of time to fill. The biggest challenge is choosing how to (ful)fill it. The possibilities are endless, and the process of discovering your new purpose can be a bit daunting. I’ve yet to determine mine, but know without doubt that I wouldn’t still be here if God didn’t have something in mind. He specializes in repurposing people to accomplish His will. Visits with Him are like trips to a Heavenly Swap Shop where He takes our pain, problems, our past (both good and bad) and transforms them into pathways to help others.
When I hear or read inspiring stories about people changing lives through volunteering or by passion and profession, I feel guilty I’m not ‘out there’ making a difference. I chastise myself for not putting the needs of others before my own – for being too self-indulgent. However, I recently came upon a quote from Mother Teresa – a model of love, charity, compassion and beacon of Christ’s love. She claimed, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
Perhaps I’ve been overthinking my purpose. Maybe I’m exactly where God wants me. Could it be as simple as loving my family? Wait a minute, there is nothing ‘simple’ about families. They get more complicated every day. Loving them well involves hefty daily servings of the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Sprinkle liberally with humility and self-sacrifice, and you’ve got the breakfast of champions. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s just easier to go out to love and serve strangers. There’s no baggage to overcome and no expectations or disappointments involved.
As I was ruminating on how I could best serve God, Jason Gray’s With Every Act of Love started playing. The lyrics are an excellent reminder that we all have value and purpose in God’s economy at any age. My assignment and(should I choose to accept it) is to live in a way that invites others into a Divine relationship. If we are all called to be Kingdom builders, I can’t think of a better place to start than laying a strong foundation within your own family.
God put a million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you
With every act of love
We bring the kingdom come
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
I’m not sure going to the dump constitutes an act of love, but when we choose to invite Christ into whatever we’re doing, He turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. My treasure will always be found in God’s Swap Shop, where I eagerly dump my trash and watch His love and grace recycle it into gems meant to be shared with others. The gratitude those daily visits inspire is sweeter than anything Dunkin’ Donuts can provide. Rick Warren has an acronym for a better sugar fix that won’t make you gain weight. He recommends focusing on the following Biblical truths:
God’s Steadfast love
God’s Unfailing mercy
God’s Great faithfulness
God is Always kind
God is my Real hope
It’s the fuel that keeps Christ’s light burning brightly. How do you choose to keep His light alive in you?
God obviously has a theme going this week. Passed this yesterday: