2011 was another powerful year of ministry in the life of Sweet Sleep which featured ground-breaking work in South Africa. As has been custom for the team members we’ve sent out over the last 9 years, each day a person is given a note from a prayer partner back home who is continuing to lift them up during the preparation and execution of their ministry work.
One night during our team’s devotional time, team member Ashley Lamb shared this note from her prayer partner, Keely Boggs:
Today marks the first day you will begin building beds. It’s easy to assume that this is a task that is simply accomplished by hands, but be reminded, it’s so much more—just as much as this is a task of the hands, it’s equally a task of the heart.
It may seem strange, but I looked up the term “bed” in Webster’s dictionary. Not because I’m unfamiliar with its function or its purpose, but I wanted to be reminded of the meaning of something that we often take for granted. And while I anticipated many of the listed definitions, I came across one that caught my attention: “an area of ground, typically in a garden, where flowers and plants are grown.”
When I read this, I couldn’t help but be reminded that this is exactly waht you and the team are doing today. Except instead of planting flowers and plants, you are planting spiritual seeds of love and hope. And instead of toiling grounds and gardens, you are ministering to hearts.
With each piece of wood, each nail that is sued and each strike of the hammer, you are not only building beds, but you are changing live. With the provision of a physical gift, you are opening people’s heart to a much bigger, a much greater spiritual gift.
Because of you, because of your obedience, people will not only receive sweet, peaceful rest, but they will have the opportunity to have their souls forever at rest because they encountered the love of Jesus through you.
So, as you bullied, remember what it is you and the team are really building: opportunities for Jesus to reveal Himself to the hearts of each and every person who will rest their head on a bed–some maybe even for the first time in their lives. Today, people will know love because of the works of your hands and heart.
I am mindful that the gift you are giving is much like the gift that you were given. Each gift uses wood, nails, and a level of compassion that can never be matched. And each is a symbol of love that echoes long after the task at hand has been accomplished.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:13-15
As Ashley read her friend’s words of affirmation, love and encouragement, I couldn’t help but cry. Keely’s words were a powerful reminder that we HAVE been given a gift that used wood and nails and incomprehensible love and compassion. It was also a reminder that this gift is not for us to keep to ourselves. It’s a gift for all. A reminder that once we have received this gift, we have the responsibility to make sure others can receive this boundless love and compassion.
My prayer for 2012 is that all that Sweet Sleep does points the lost in the right direction and provides hope for those who are without hope and love for those who have never known it. My prayer is for God to use Sweet Sleep in a way that is eternal. My prayer for you is that you would reach out to find your place in the abundant opportunities, here and abroad.