I woke this morning in a grumpy mood. My husband had planned a meeting with a local pastor around lunch time. She asked if we could meet at our house and then suggested the menu for lunch. I knew that now it was not just the two to three hours she would be there to talk, but also the preparation time for the meal. My attitude was not very charitable.
After starting the meal, I came to my office to see if there was anything already in print that I could use for Peter’s Wife this month. I am recovering from a two week bout of flu that put me way behind on my preparations. I picked up Sue Eenigenburg’s book, Screams in the Desert. It is a book of stories and devotions about living cross culturally. I leafed through the book and was intrigued by the title, I Gave God My Life, But Not My Toothbrush. After reading the chapter, laughing and groaning, I had to change my attitude about our lunch appointment. Actually, it was the best time we have had with this sister.
One morning during my quiet time, I had such a burning desire in my heart for God to use me. My heart was reaching out to God. I poured out my soul before his throne. “Oh, God.” I cried. “Use me to honor your name. Whatever the cost—prison, beatings, martyrdom—I want to serve you. Take my life today to use as you see fit. You are my King and I give myself to you.”
I shared this desire with others in our team. I felt so ready to lose anything for the kingdom.
Then we had a house guest. . .again.
Elliot used to come to our house a lot. He had no money, no job, and no place to stay. I would get so tired of serving tea, reheating dinner when he came late, washing the extra pajamas and sheets, and rearranging our kids so he could have a place to sleep. I grew to have a very poor attitude in my service toward this brother. Soon he stopped coming.
Later I heard he was sleeping at the bus station and not eating regularly. Stricken with remorse, the next time he called, I asked him where he had been and invited him to come see us again. You see I had had my quiet time and I was ready to give up my life for the kingdom.
Then he used my toothbrush and left it bloody.
I was angry. It was my favorite toothbrush—though I hadn’t realized it till then! He was my husband’s friend—why didn’t he choose to use my husband’s toothbrush? I would have to go buy a new toothbrush. I knew I could never find another like it. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.
“God—look what happens. I did this for you. I wanted to help this guy out and what does he do? He picks my toothbrush to use and get bloody. I can’t believe it! I have to buy a new toothbrush. I liked my toothbrush. God, it isn’t fair!”
Then I heard a still, small voice. “You offered me your life. You mentioned beatings, prison, and a willingness to be martyred. All I asked from you today is your toothbrush.”
At times, I get so grandiose in my thinking; anything for you, Lord; anywhere for you, Lord; anytime for you, Lord. When what God is looking for is my service to him in the here and now details of my life, the small things I have to give today.
It isn’t likely that I will ever be beaten, stay in prison or be a martyr. Maybe that is why I am so ready to give myself to God for these spectacular opportunities to serve (at least it sounds spectacular in a book written by someone who survives it all). What God wants from me is to be open day by day, minute by minute to serve him by giving him not only my life, buy my toothbrush as well.
Excerpt Reprinted by permission. Screams in the Desert, Sue Eenigenburg, 2007, William Carey Library, Pasadena, CA All rights reserved. For more information, check out the publisher’s web site at: William Carey Library