Monday morning, I spent some time assembling bags filled with supplies for reading games. Index cards, poster board, markers, glue, scissors, plastic baggies. The usual stuff teachers use to make fun reading activities for their students. Only this wasn’t for a teacher, it was a non-profit educational foundation some dear friends own.
Normally, these sorts of things, teacher things, make me a little anxious. I am not the flashcard mom nor the reading workbook mom nor the keep track of the number of minutes read for a free Six Flags ticket you can only use during weekdays when the temperature goes above 101 degrees mom.
Thankfully, my daughter is all of those things. And I really hate that I’ll have to disappoint her by not going to Six Flags with her in the August heat. I’m sure she’ll be totally fine by herself.
The verdict’s still out on Skillet and his interest in these sorts of things. He’s been zero percent interested in his preschool years but so was Saffron. Now that girl will read and study and keep the bubble in her mouth for a “buck” to use in the school store like it’s the most important task she has to complete. Ever. I suspect Skillet will be equally as motivated. He loves cheap plastic toys.
My friend is prepping for a volunteer event coming up in a week or so. A large company in town has partnered with her foundation committing 200 volunteers to assemble the games for their summer reading program. When I got there, she’d already mapped out a great plan and was ready with the supplies but just before we dove in, she said…
“I’m gonna need a hug before we get started.”
Bless her heart.
In two years, her foundation has grown from an idea, a tug at her heart, a thing she couldn’t stand NOT to do to a full-grown ministry. Just in the last three months, God has been knocking her over with His provision.
It’s been amazing to watch.
And it’s wrecking her in the best way.
Jael’s Moment of Not on My Watch…
So many times, that thing we can’t stop thinking about, that problem we feel burning our souls, the solution we just know we could do, the things we see and say, “Not on my watch.” Those things become our ministry.
I wonder how long Jael and Heber, her husband, had lived in enemy territory, in their tent under the shade of the great big tree. How many years ago did Heber make an alliance with the Canaanites? Israel had been Canaanite slaves for twenty years, working under Sisera. Scripture tells us Sisera “had cruelly oppressed the Israelites.”
Cruelly oppressed. Sisera deliberately caused pain and suffering with no regret or concern about doing it and all Jael could do was watch her people her die. Her husband had made an alliance with King Jabin of Canaan so she was free from the physical suffering.
But oh how I suspect she suffered from watching.
Watching her aunts and sisters and cousins and childhood friends suffer and die at the hands of Sisera’s cruel oppression.
In Deborah’s song in Judges 5, she tells of Sisera’s mother waiting for her son to return from battle. She’s worried because she hasn’t heard his chariot rumble into the driveway. Her servants try to comfort her by reminding her of his usual behavior during battle…
Don’t you think they’re busy at plunder,
dividing up the loot?
A girl, maybe two girls,
for each man…
~Judges 5:30, The Message
Everyone knew, even his mother, that Sisera took not only material possessions from the people he conquered but he also took women. All his soldiers took women, maybe two. Soldiers that numbered well beyond the 9,000 iron chariots they rode into battle.
And he wasn’t taking them to see a movie or get a bite to eat.
Jael knew this too.
I wonder if Jael had fed Sisera dinner in that tent, maybe during the negotiations for the alliance. Pouring him wine, bringing him food while patting her pocket making sure the tent stake was still there, wondering when she might get the chance to free Israel, her people, from Sisera’s torture.
This was what she could not stop thinking about, the cruel oppression of her people. This was the problem that burned deep in her soul. That tent stake was the solution she knew she could offer if only given the chance. And when her time came, she was ready.
Not on my watch, not in my house, no more of this.
Their Not on My Watch Moment…
My friends, David and Doneda, had their own moment.
Through their educational coaching business, they started to realize so many of the kids were from low-socio-economic households with the educational deck stacked against them. Advantages most of us see as just regular, walking around, every day, normal stuff, these precious souls did not have access to.
The kids, the ones over-looked and left-behind and under-served, through absolutely no fault of their own, they are the faces my friends could not stop thinking about, who’s needs burned deep down in their souls, and they knew they had a solution to offer.
So they said, “Not on my watch.”
It hasn’t been easy, but then nothing worth doing is ever easy. They have fought for every dollar donated, every volunteer who put together games, every contact they made to reach the kids.
New challenges emerged, new problems they had never considered, new ways of thinking about how to serve them. They learned so much. Had lots of AH-HA moments.
And they have been committed. Preparing and planning and patiently waiting for the Lord’s daily bread.
Then the Lord, well, He just started showing off, that’s what He’s done. He’s providing in ways that are stretching them, forcing them to lean on Him, and telling that low hum of anxiety flowing just beneath the surface to flee from them.
And I am just smitten with the whole thing.
I love the people God has brought them, the vision He’s providing, the volunteers, the connections, the resources. I just flat grateful for every bit of it.
And for my friends.
Your Not on My Watch Moment…
Friend, what is that THING you cannot stop thinking about? What is that situation or lesson or problem you see that burns deep in your soul?
Is it fighting an injustice? Correcting a wrong? Meeting a need?
You don’t have to destroy an army general but you might destroy the evil of going hungry for one family.
Maybe the injustice you fight isn’t a person at all but maybe it’s the wrong of your neighbor’s loneliness.
It’s doubtful pure evil will ever come walking up your driveway but you could go out of your driveway to mentor a child at your local elementary school.
You might not need to start a foundation, run a business, grow something from nothing, but you could join and volunteer and invest in organizations and people already serving in those places where you know your heart belongs.
However it looks, that thing that makes you want to scream, “NO WAY. Not on my watch!”…
That’s your ministry.