A small plastic bag with a t-shirt and a skirt sat on the floor next to her. Her long black hair fell gently about her and she laughed and told me stories from Darfur, and then her life here. She had waved J—down on the street, and when he found out she had been sleeping on the street he invited her to our home for the night. We placed the girls in with my parents and cleaned out a room for her to stay in. All she owned sat in that bag on the floor, and as we talked all that I owned (even after being evacuated last year) would fill several suitcases. We slipped into easy conversation, she knew no English but it was wonderful to use my second language to find out more of her story and heart.
It was a busy night for us that night, my mind was cloudy and distracted, an emergency room visit with our youngest amidst getting her settled and then an early morning send off for her and J—to a job fair so she could find work. But that bag and our conversations have been bouncing about my brain ever since.
I think it is because it comes to represent one of my biggest lessons/ thoughts learned here, and that is that you cannot measure success or faithfulness merely by outcome, it is measured by what you do with what you have been given.
So I’ve been given the ability to read, an education, access to books on parenting, loving God, cultural awareness and adaptation. I’ve been given more clothes then fit into one bag and a roof over my head and a pantry full of food. I’ve been given resources, access to a church, freedom to worship as I grew up…but it is not as important what I’ve been given as it is what will I do with my bag of blessings that has been bestowed upon me.
For me this has been a sobering and overwhelming thought. See at the end of my lifetime I must answer for what I’ve been given, not for how I’ve used it to accomplish more or less then another. It is me standing before our God and He will not ask me why I didn’t do what another did in their lifetime, he will not applaud me for knowing more languages then another, or memorizing more of His word then my neighbor down the hall, he will not chide me for signing less beautifully then my sister, or organizing less studies then my friend, he will merely ask me to show Him my bag of blessings and I will be accountable for how I have chosen to submit them and cultivate and use them for His glory, or have hoarded them and allow them to rot or be put to waste.
If your carry through your lifetime as many privileges and blessings as I have this is a sobering thought indeed, how to submit and cultivate each bag in order that the things inside can be used for things that matter, for eternal glories and kingdoms and blessings.
Friends this is such a frightening thought for me, because far too often I do not do much with what I have been given, I forget it has been given as a gift to share, to use, to cultivate and to offer for a greater glory. Tucked in that bag on the floor my Darfurian friend had two breath mints that she gave to my girls. She left our house with less then she arrived with – she wasn’t afraid to give away what she’d been given – she didn’t allow the smallness of her one bag to be overshadowed by the things she saw around her bag was opened and with the greatest of generosity she shared what she had to bless us. Her bag has brought to joy to our hearts ever since, with simple texts or emoticons of encouragement to us- sometimes telling us what she is doing, mostly thanking us for a shower and a smile – I want to live my life more like her, each bag of blessings given to me opened wide to cultivate, use and give to another-not taking for granted the plethora of generosity lavished upon me through education, access to the word of God, and freedom to worship but cultivating each gift, and offering it back up to the king so it can be used for His glory and honor.
We seek to empower our children, our teammates and our Sudanese friends to love and know more of who God is through acts of loving service and biblical teaching.