“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:40
I type with tears rolling down my cheeks over Jenny. Jenny is a young mom who accepted Christ a little over a month ago and she, unfortunately, has had a tough, rough life. A jagged past and helpless circumstances brought her to a place of defeat and she surrendered her life. At the end of herself, she realized that she needed a Savior. Her story is remarkable and her confidence that “everything will be okay” is admirable in her new found faith.
I have a heart for Jenny. She doesn’t have anyone in her life to model what a follower of Christ looks like. Talk about a repentant sinner, it’s unfathomable for me to imagine doing a complete 180 from where Jenny has been. My personal journey was more of a yellow brick road, where I met people and happened upon experiences along the way that eventually, at age 32, led me to Christ and, ultimately, confidence of my heavenly home. Jenny, on the other hand, has a story that is more like the Damascus road, Jesus showed up and – boom! – She was blind, but now she sees.
Jenny came into my life because her daughter is one of my 3rd graders in Sunday School. I put an invitation out to all of my 3rd graders and strongly encouraged them to attend bible camp this summer. Jenny took me up on my offer for her daughter to attend, but one caveat, wanted to go to. Miraculously, we were able to secure a volunteer position as a camp cook; she eagerly jumped at the opportunity to be in close proximity to her 9 year old, only child.
As a volunteer, she needed to arrive at camp a day earlier for staff orientation so I elected to drive her up a day early. Now, being a former camp kid, and a life-long advocate of this particular Bible Camp, I always thought of camp as “roughen it”. What I mean is… there are community showers, a pungent aroma of evergreen trees and no internet access.” [INSERT SHRIEKING HORROR MUSIC]
Yet, here comes Jenny with fresh, innocent, optimistic eyes and as we toured camp she was expressively in awe. What impacted me the most in her inspiring first impressions was when she set her sleeping bag on her bunk and said, “This is like a 5-star resort, are you kidding me, this is amazing!” Behind that statement is the fact that she is currently sleeping on the dining room floor of a friends house because she was recently evicted from her apartment and they are, in essence, homeless. Compared to her current living arrangement; camp is modern, spacious and abundant with amenities – nothing short of luxurious in her mind.
Given a perspective like this, all of a sudden I felt embarrassed and ashamed over all that I am taking for-granted. For example, my 2015 Nissan Rogue is a lemon (Not kidding), but Jenny was amazed by dual climate control, a rear back-up camera and the remote key-less entry. Add to that, she said she was expecting camp to be a big tent like you would see the movie “M.A.S.H.” and was literally preparing for the worst, yet willing to endure whatever she needed to be near her daughter for the week.
How can I NOT cry? God used Jenny to show me just how abundantly blessed I am! What started out as an invitation to attend camp, turned into God revealing how much I have become Americanized; discontent, spoiled rotten and ungrateful.
Shame. On. Me!
The reality is that sometimes God has to break your heart to show you that He’s not done with you yet. I may have a 15-year head start on my walk with the LORD, but Jenny’s contentment, faith and confidence in Jesus is a reminder to me that I have no reason not to be thankful in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18