Just show up

I know I am a little hypocritical about cliches. I say that I don’t like them and I purport to be against their usage in spoken or written communication. However, I know that most have you heard an old adage come out of my mouth. I don’t always remember who told it to me. Maybe I read it or picked it up in a conversation. But pithy little statements sometimes can say succinctly what otherwise might take paragraphs to explain. I think the reason for my disdain is that I had a couple of old professors who always marked papers down for two stylistic details. One, the use of the word “thing” when you can actually use the word that “thing” is describing. And two, the overuse of cliches. So with apologies to them here is the thing I want to say…

God is more concerned about your availability than your capability!

In short most of the successes in my life can be attributed to just showing up. And many of the failures were when I showed up with the wrong attitude or didn’t show up at all.

I have a story to illustrate. As you are all aware, before I came home last time I wasn’t feeling the greatest. I was invited to a church service to preach. Man, I was dreading it. I did not want to go. I didn’t want to preach. I just wanted to rest. But I went anyway.

Let me tell you… I was terrible. I wasn’t thinking clearly, my Spanish was off, and I was tired and it showed. I still ended the sermon with the familiar phrase straight out of the Joy Community Church handbook on preaching, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He wants to have relationship with you. If you want to hear more about this relationship see me after the service.”

Well, this guy came up to me afterwards. He reeked of sweat, glue (his drug of choice), and other aromas that I don’t care to get into. He walked up and said, “does God love me”? I said, “of course.” So we talked and don’t really remember everything we talked about, but ultimately I told him that I was going to the U.S. and would see him when I came back. I gave him one of the Bibles I keep in my backpack, went home, and the next week I came back to the States. And you all know how that turned out.

So fast forward 4 months. I am back in Nicaragua, walking to the market and I hear someone calling, “pastor, pastor”. It was that man. I honestly didn’t recognize him. He wasn’t all spiffed up, but he didn’t stink and he wasn’t high (as far as I could tell). I asked him how he was and he told me that the night I had spoken to him changed his life. He started reading his Bible, starting in John. I really don’t remember telling him that. But it is possible because that is where I tell everyone to start reading, especially if they haven’t read the Bible before. He also went back to the church I had visited and the regular pastor there started to mentor him. He got him in a rehab program. And now one day at a time he is trying to grow in his relationship with God.

Why do tell you this. Is it so you can pat me on the back or admire my skill at motivation? No!!! Of course not. I didn’t do anything. The only thing I did was show up. God did the rest. My capabilities were zero. But God used simply the one thing I could not mess up. My presence. And I almost messed that up. I almost didn’t show up.

I am telling you this because you make it possible for me to show up. Your prayers and your generosity allow me to be here. God handles the rest.

A friend of mine often reminds me that our job is to introduce people to the God who wants to have relationship with them. It is the Holy Spirit that draws all men and women to Him. We make the intros and He does the rest.

So thank you for giving me the ability to show up. My capabilities may be overshadowed by many. But I will, with your help, be available.

I guess cliches and adages aren’t always that bad. Thanks again. Please continue to pray for Oscar. And on a personal note pease continue to pray for my brother.

Until next time, Dios los bendiga, Jeff

Growing up on the mission field for most of my youth, I never imagined leaving the U.S. other than to serve on short-term mission trips. But, it was on one of those ministry tours to Granada, Nicaragua, that I fell in love with the Nicaraguan people and Uno Mas Ministries began.

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