By Amy A.
This is how it goes. One of us walks through the door with a duct-taped box or a couple of not-currently-colored Walmart bags. We send the word throughout the building for everyone to leave their cleaning or food prep and come see our “new” donations. It’s Christmas morning at the PEACE Program.
Even though this is obviously stuff that nobody wanted–not the church, or the school, or the daycare, or kids’ church–we’re super excited, because we can probably find a way to use pretty much anything that blue Walmart bag may hold. In a way, bottom-of-the-food-chain donations are even better than Christmas morning, because long after we dig them out of the box, we’re still unwrapping all their uses.. and all that God’s provision really means.
It means that nothing is junk, and everything has a use. Everything. Especially–just because God is funny–those things I whine most loudly about. I learned this lesson a couple of years ago from Amy B., Jesus, and a gift He thoughtfully gave us one fall day. I was a bit of a rookie, and I was about to learn the profound beauty of simple gifts.
That particular box held about 20 rolls of tape. Not clear tape, not duct tape, not any kind of tape I’ve ever seen or heard of. It’s green, dark green, and about a half an inch wide. So random!
I wondered out loud, loudly. “Who makes this stuff?! Why? Who buys it? Who uses it? Obviously no one, since we got so much of it! When are we ever going to use green tape?! GREEN TAPE!”
Amy B. was just giggling and fitting several rolls of tape onto her wrists, as though they were her royal bracelets. She held them up and said pretty much the same words that I did, but with a different tone, one that puzzled me. There was mirth and gratitude, amusement mingled with intrigue in a fashion that gently contrasted my exasperation.
I would have thrown them away that first day, but for Amy B.’s pack-ratty ways. I decided to let her clutter the big supply cabinet with the stupid tape, just for a couple months. Then my point would be proven. We would never use it.
This is green tape. A roll of green tape, and some of the same helping to hold our table together.
This is green tape in the kitchen. It helps our many volunteers know where to find things and where to put things away.
This is green tape, making sure we don’t walk into a wreaking building on Monday afternoon.
Green tape is making itself useful in the file cabinet, creating elegant labels out of index cards for our hanging files.
And keeping the big
supply cabinet tidy
We’ve recently launched a library in the program, where the books are organized by reading level and according to whether they are fiction or nonfiction. Nonfiction books are all marked with a little green tape on the spine.
We once threw a party for one of our workers, and wrote on the wall, “YOU ROCK!”… with green tape.
If the kids need to move around but the weather is inhospitable, we play indoor four-square–squares provided by, you guessed it, green tape.
Somewhat to our dismay, we now just have 1 or 2 rolls of green tape left. It’s a little sad and very indicative of the many wonders worked by this seemingly random little gift. Not junk. Not a hand-me-down. A gift. A good and perfect one, sent from Father with love.
The skill of seeing the simple gifts, even when they’re not wrapped so attractively, is one that I’ve learned to value more than ever since being planted at PEACE. I won’t say that I’m an expert at it yet, but I have at least learned that whining, acting superior, and acting defeated are not part of the package. I want my eyes to be open to all the stuff, all the opportunities, and especially all the people that God will lovingly set on my path. For me, nothing beats getting to touch the bits of Heaven we already have here in Christ. I don’t have to know what I’ll do with them. I just have to hang on to them, remembering Who made and sent them. Who knows? The next gift might end up holding things together in ways I just can’t anticipate now.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to keep and a time to throw away…He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”