I think that is wonderful advice, but it is not what I have learned today.
First, you need to know something. In Uganda, we have an ABUNDANCE of dust. Geof and I live down a very, very, dusty road. Some workers recently came and dumped loads and loads of dirt on our road to fill the giant potholes (see picture below). It can rain one day and the next day we still have dust floating around everywhere. Dust is such a crazy thing here, that you will find our guard sweeping the dust in the parking lot of the compound in the mornings. And that dust makes its way down our little driveway and into our apartment. Dust seeps its way into every little crack and crevice. I can dust the coffee table this morning, and by tomorrow morning it will be showing a small, thin layer of fresh dust that is settling in. NO FUN.
We can safely say that dust and I don’t have the best relationship, if you can imagine. Yesterday I swept our house in preparation for today’s mopping. But this morning’s mopping was still a bit of a frustration because some new dust had already come. When I mop, I use two big basins of water. My blue basin is the soapy water, and the green basin is for rinsing. You can see the in the picture below how dirty the green, rinsing basin water became after only mopping my tiny kitchen (which had actually been freshly swept this morning, before mopping!) and after mopping not even half of my living room. So, after two rinsings, this is what the water looked like! If I don’t use the separate basin for rinsing, my soapy water gets so, so dirty so, so quickly that I would have to change it out about 4-5 times in order to mop the entire apartment, which would take a lot of soap! So, I use a second “rinsing basin”.
As I was mopping, a song came on my iTunes radio. This song was talking about how the Lord makes things beautiful. I kept listening and watching. I watched as my floors became a little bit cleaner. And I thought about mine and Geof’s street boys and how slowly, but surely, the Lord can restore their lives to beauty again.
And yesterday, a song at church included the lines:
As the layers of dust float their way into our apartment and onto the floors each day, it takes work to remove it. And it takes work to remove the layers of dust from the hearts of my boys. This week I had so many doubts. Am I really able to keep doing this? Am I making any sort of difference? Will the boys ever respect me and really listen to me? Will my Luganda ever be good enough to communicate with them in the deepest parts of their hearts?
On our floors, there are areas with less dust that get mopped once and are clean. But there are areas that need multiple moppings until they are clean. And lastly, there are stains (in our brand new apartment) that were created when the workers failed to clean up after themselves…. and they are everywhere! Those parts can be clean, but will never look clean. So even after taking the time to mop several times, it will still look dirty.
And then there are boys like Enoch (pictured here in buttoned-up shirt). I have known Enoch for three years. I know he has been in and out of multiple homes. I feel like Enoch is represented by the stained spots on my floors left by the builders. The ones who were originally responsible for loving him and building him up struggled in doing so. He is stained, in a sense. He has tried to go into homes, but he struggles and runs. Saturday was my first day to see him in a LONG time. The last time I saw him, I was teaching him the Bible as he was living in a home, going to school, and being loved and cared for daily. But now he is back on the streets. He wanted me to contact the former directors of that home he had run from, but I just don’t know if he is ready to leave the streets. He has had so many opportunities, but is he ready this time? I fear he is like the stains on my floors. We can all scrub and scrub, and mop and mop, but he I think he will continue to struggle.
But, we will not stop scrubbing, we will not stop mopping, we will continue working. Even though some boys are covered with more layers of difficulty, we must push forward. And I can no longer be focused on the questions of “Can I…?” , “Am I able….?”, “Will I ever…?” When David went into battle with Goliath, he made two comments about his enemy, and followed them with NINE reference to God. Max Lucado writes in Facing Your Giants:
Focus on giants – you stumble.
Focus on God – your giants tumble.
So, may my constant mopping be a constant reminder of how God works in different ways, and on different timelines, to make us all beautiful. And may I focus on HIM in the times of struggle, and not myself.
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