Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Tarnished Silver"

This is the beginnings of a manuscript that I am writing about my first year living "on the mission field". It wasn't overseas the way I always thought it would be but right in my home town instead. I titled it "Tarnished Silver" because that year I managed to find beautiful treasures in the midst of seemingly worthless heartbreak.


There was an impetuous beauty about her movements and a coarse undertone in her voice. She dressed and acted like a sixteen year old rather than the ten year old I knew she was. She sat on my couch, one hand tugging at her blouse trying to get the too little material to cover her unformed chest. Her long thin legs crossed and uncrossed at the ankles as she voiced her frustrations with life. She cried as she talked about the man who had raped her two years before. I rubbed her back, at a loss of what else to do. Amazingly, in the midst of this I felt a ray of light seep into the otherwise dark and burdensome atmosphere. In fact, a real light was drifting through the open blind and almost seemed to reflect of the child’s blond hair causing the once lifeless strands to shimmer in the sun’s rays. It was then, as I watched something drab and unattractive transformed into something beautiful that I realized what I was holding. The lost and hurting child in my arms was in actuality a wealth of tarnished silver. Worth much to the God I serve, although in her present state she appeared to be more work than profit.

How did I end up with a fortune in tarnished silver sitting on my couch? It was a long hard journey and I was not always the best at following directions. However, the lost treasure in my soul had once caught my God’s attention and he had sought me out. Now, I was finally in the place to help him polish another jewel for his kingdom.


When I was sixteen I decided I wanted to go on the mission field. It wasn’t my original plan. All my life I had planned on two definite things: get married and have lots of kids. Now, suddenly, through some unexpected directions I was realizing a desire for something different. I wanted to tell children who had never heard that Jesus loved them… that he did, so very much.I attacked this new dream much the way I did everything else: with all I had.
By the time I was eighteen I had come to the conclusion that I wanted to support myself financially on the mission field rather than be supported by a church. I focused my attention on earning a living that would basically carry itself. I decided on real estate since both my father and my eldest brother worked in that field. My first house I bought with one of my brothers. The proceeds from the sale of that house paid for a year at Bible College. When I returned home I immediately set my sights on another house. My offer was accepted and I started the dreaded paper work that is involved with buying a home.
Then it happened. I was sitting in a church service and God said, more clearly than I dared admit, to give the house away. I didn’t think it was possible that God would ask me such a thing. I was five short years away from seeing all my plans become reality and that house was the key. Every cent I owned was sitting in a down payment check. But alas, it was true. He would not be swayed from his decision. With trembling, I obeyed. A few weeks later I was signing over the house to a family in my church who didn’t own one.
At the time I assumed that the lesson God wanted to teach me was about His provision. How wrong I was! The lesson wasn’t about provision but about pride. After the house was gone I was back to square one: no savings, living in my parents house without any direction or certain plans. When someone asked what I was doing, I had no answer. I felt people’s disapproval keenly. I literally cringed when people asked me questions and went out of my way to avoid people I knew would. One night while praying I realized that the hardest part about giving my house away was not the money I no longer had, but the answers I could no longer give. My plans had crumbled at my feet but yet, in the midst of that, I felt the Lord’s promise clearly in my heart. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from me.”


Her name was “Becky” and that gap-toothed smile stole my heart the moment I saw her. The pink jacket that was carelessly slung on her shoulders was dirty and useless against he brisk winter wind. I opened the door wider to allow her and her friend into my warm living room but they didn’t come in. “We just wanted to know if we could borrow your shovel.” She asked, nodding toward the orange plastic snow shovel leaning against the porch railing. I nodded my approval and after promising to bring it back the two disappeared around the side of the house.
Two hours later I went outside to run to the grocery store. I noticed the shovel was back in its place and began my trek to the car. Half way there I stopped and looked around then realized what was different. My sidewalks were shoveled as well as a path from my porch to the front door of my vehicle.“Tasha!” Tasha!” Two little voices called my name from across the street. I looked up and waved. “We shoveled your walkway!” They told me, huge smiles on their faces. I hollared back my thank you and still grinning, climbed in my car.


A year after my house had been given away I started working fulltime at Community Bank, N.A. Each day after work I would go for a walk. Oft times I would find myself wandering down the same street. It was known as the worst street in town. The “ghetto” of our tiny village. Every time I walked down that street I was amazed at the amount of children that were playing outside. The adults would sit on the porches and the kids would play on the side of the road. I smiled and waved whenever I went by and the kids always smiled back.
I remember walking down that and praying, “Lord, this is a mission field. They’re all right here, sitting outside their homes. All you’d have to do is move among them. Why doesn’t the church do that?”
One day I walked by a house that had a for sale sign in the lawn. I pulled out a flyer. It was an adorable little house, almost like a cottage, with beautiful gardens in the back yard that sloped down to the river. “See, Lord,” I prayed again, “This would be perfect. You should have a Christian family move in here.”As I walked that street months later I noticed that the for sale sign I had seen was still there. “Lord, I’m serious. You should have Believers live here. Why can’t other people see this opportunity? If I had the money I would move here. But since I can’t, will you please send someone?”


Helen, the ten year old girl who had been raped at eight, touched the keys on my piano and she walked by it. “Do you play?” She asked.“Yes, I do and my roommate Delite does.” I told her, waiting for a response. She didn’t disappoint me.“Will you play something?”I smiled and sat down, playing a random worship song from the stack of music.“I love that. The music makes me happy.” She said.


I was late for a birthday party. I was struggling into my tennis shoes when my dad called me. Biting back a groan I hurriedly finished and rushed down from my room on the third floor. “Yes?” I asked as I walked into the kitchen. My parents were sitting at the table.
“Do you have a couple minutes to come look at something with me?” My dad asked.
“Well, I’m late already. Will it take long?”
“It shouldn’t.”
I shrugged. What was a few more minutes? My parents and I climbed into their Saube and headed out.
“There’s just a house I’d like your opinion on.” My dad explained. I had no idea where we were going so I was surprised when we turned down the same street I always walked on. I was even more surprised when we pulled up in front of the little cottage.We climbed out and the real estate agent met us at the front door. She let us in and we wandered through the tiny house.
After looking over everything my dad asked what I thought. “It’s adorable.” I told him truthfully. Maybe he was thinking of buying another rental house. I could insist that he rent it to a Christian family.My dad was true to his word and we didn’t stay long. As we were driving back home he asked me if I’d like to buy that house. I laughed a little, “I would but I can’t. I barely have six hundred dollars in the bank.” He didn’t say anything more.


Helen and Becky both were laying on the living room floor with me. Candy Land was in the center and they both were laughing hard because I had drawn the peppermint stick and had to go back to the beginning.Delite came through and sat down at the piano. She glanced through the music and started playing This is Life by Laura Woodley. I started singing with her. Eyes can’t see the way you hold me or how I’m hidden in your heart. Minds don’t know all that you’ve told me or how I ache for where you are…Helen jumped up from her spot on the floor and leaned over Litey’s shoulder as she continued. I come in empty and I leave filled. Bring my sickness and I leave healed. Broken hearted you mend every piece. I come in captive and I leave free…When she finished Helen sighed. “That song makes me cry.”


“Your mother and I will give you the down-payment money.” My father explained to me as we sat looking at the contract that had been drawn up. “You should be able to get the loan in just your name, especially since you work at the bank.” He laughed a little.Before I knew it I was signing papers and pestering my boss to get my loan application filed so a closing date could be set.
Here I was praying for someone else and all the while God was preparing this place for me. I laughed at the irony of it all. The closing date came and the house was officially mine.My friends, Delite and Keturah, agreed to live with me to help with the mortgage and utilities.The first day that the house officially belonged to me I stood outside staring at it for almost a half an hour. Lord, let me make a difference.


Anonymous said...

I found your blog through the ylcf website, this story is very good so far. I too felt called to missions for a long time, and the Lord answered my prayer by bringing me to Canada. not quite the mission field I was thinking of, but He knew what He was doing. I met my husband here. Our mission field truly is where we are at the moment, whether WAL-MART, home, or our neighborhood, over seas or not. Keep up the writing, you have great talent.
---a fellow sister in Christ,

nmetzler said...

May your work in Canada (and at Walmart) be very fulfilling!