Just One Bead

 In service/ministry, stories

I just returned from a week-long trip to Chiapas, Mexico with a group of 15 other members of our church. It was one of the most incredibly moving experiences of which I have ever been a part. There is something so simple about getting away from one’s normal environment and being forced to put down social media and constant connection to others. I had forgotten the joy and actualization that comes from journaling each morning. It’s like when you remove all the self-imposed distractions of life, you realize how very close God actually is.

One of my favorite activities of our trip was leading children’s services for 200 children in a nearby village. We didn’t speak their language, but we sure did have fun doing puppets, singing songs, and handing out snacks. It blew my mind how we never once had to ask a room of 200 children to sit down or be quiet! I can barely get my own 3 children to sit quietly through a single dinner! I wondered aloud what the difference was in these children that made them sit so quietly and respectfully, and a friend looked at me and said simply: “They’re not entitled.”

That hit me so hard. Try as we might to give our kids a grounded, gratitude-filled reality, the fact is that they’re simply accustomed to having all their needs met and more, and that can make them entitled. These precious children in Mexico were the exact opposite. They did not take material goods for granted, nor did they have superfluous toys, clothes, or treats available so regularly that they grew bored and jaded with their very existence.

This point was further driven home when we began to hand out the materials for the craft we brought along. It was a small bracelet made from floss-like string and simple beads. We were instructed to give about 15 beads to each child to make the craft. As I went from child to child, handing out the beads, I came upon a little girl that had a single finger held out in anticipation. She had seen all the beads but only held out space enough to receive a single one.

Because of our language barrier, I tried to mimic and show her how she needed to hold out both of her precious little hands to receive the full amount that she was due. At one point, I gently guided her hands together when she didn’t seem to understand me. It was like she couldn’t fathom receiving anything more than the one that she had expected.

In that moment, I felt so much in common with this precious girl. Not literally, of course, but in the way I approach God. My expectations of what He can do in, through, and for me are very much only one fingers’ worth at times. I offer up small-minded prayers filled with limitations and nonexistent expectations. Then I sit with my “one finger” out and open and wait for God to meet my bare minimum.

In that moment in Chiapas, Mexico,  it’s like I could imagine God whispering to me, “Open up your hands! You have no idea the things I can do in and through you if you’d just let Me dictate your level of expectation!” I felt humbled, I felt challenged, and I will never forget the visual of the little girl with the one finger out, looking for just one bead.

Let’s not be that way with our expectancy. Instead let’s throw our arms wide open and shout out to God that we are ready, willing, and able to receive whatever He sees fit to give us. He has plans for our lives that we would never imagine, so lets not put our limitations on what we think God can do for us! Even if we can’t understand or see, let’s trust that His ways are not ours and that because He is in us, working through us, we can do more than we ever could in our own ability or strength!

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