It had been a sort of discouraging afternoon - nothing had seemed to be going right, and I kept having nagging feelings that I wasn't being as useful to God as I ought to be. Finally, I decided to go do my little bit of laundry, instead of dwelling on what I thought were big obstacles...
I walked into the rural Tennessee laundromat, in the vain hope of finding someone who could break $100 into washing-machine-sized chunks.
And then I saw him.
Friendly looking young man, 19 years old as it turns out. He noticed what I was up to right away, and pulled out some small bills. 'Here', he said. 'They're yours'.
As I looked him over, I realized he didn't have it to give. His dirty, pink backpack clashed with his oversized, too warm for the weather clothes.
He repeatedly pressed me to keep it. Told me how he knew something better would happen if I did. Almost makes me break down just thinking about it...
He told me how his Dad kicked him out - how he was abusive. Showed me where he'd been slashed, stabbed and shot. (yes, seriously). Told me how his girlfriend had been pregnant. How he'd loved her and her unborn girl.
How she died in a car wreck a week after they found out it was a girl.
And yet, amid his occasional profanity, he blessed God.
I took his $5, started my laundry and quickly ran to town to return it to him. (didn't have the heart to keep it - just couldn't).
You know, everything I had been struggling with suddenly looked so small. My giants suddenly became dwarfs.
And I remembered my purpose in this world. Not to worry about what God wants me to do, not to sweat while looking at the big picture...
No. My purpose is to represent Christ. To be a friend. To be selfless.
I don't anticipate that being my last time seeing my yet-un-named friend. Hoping to get him a shower tonight.
But one thing's for sure: He's taught me a lesson in selflessness more valuable than dollars, and that I pray I won't soon forget.
You see, mission work isn't only overseas. It's everywhere.
Oh to be like Jesus...