Monday, September 5, 2016

Cease Striving

I did a tally this week of the number of boxes packed at our packing parties from 2009-2015 and by God's grace the grand total is...126,261 -- this makes me smile because all through my shoebox packing journey God has given us interesting totals.  One year is was 1,234 and our first packing party was 5,577.

It's kind of hard to picture 126,621 but this is a picture of Penn State's Beaver Stadium (go blue and white) that holds a bit over 106,000 people so just picture another 20,000 some added to that.

God has always made these packing parties happen and I know He will do it again in 11 days.  Still, I struggle with all the loose ends and details.  I've had a new burden all year to make each of these boxes a blessing to the child who receives it.  I've tried to purchase high quality anchor items and bulkier fillers that will fill boxes better.  Still, it's impossible for me to know what will bless each shoebox recipient.

But we have an omniscient God who does.  As I prayed this morning I told Him how glad I am that He knows every item we have and every child who will receive each box, and I asked Him (again) to make those heavenly matches.

I'm thinking a lot these days about the dichotomy in Scripture of working and resting.  Throughout Scripture we're called to work "heartily as unto the Lord" but we're also called to trust and rest.  The trouble is, I'm not sure how all of this applies to me in these last days before the BIG DAYS.

At last year's packing party we had some conflicts during the day because of indecision about what items to pack next and how to best combine them.  So I've been trying to figure this out.  I've looked at the number of items and feel like we might be short.  Should I make a last-minute purchase of some extra visors to be sure we have enough?  On the other hand, a lot of our items are bulkier this year.  How will that work out?  And how do we distribute them across age and gender?  The possible combinations are vast...

Do I continue prayerfully trying to come up with a plan or do I sink into His rest?  I've been meditating on Psalm 46:10.  Many versions of this verse say, "Be still and know that I am God," but the NASB says, "Cease striving and know that I am God."  Working and striving versus resting and knowing.  I don't believe these are mutually exclusive, so I am asking God to show me His balance as I work and rest.

Meanwhile--here's the pile of nearly free items I got from two store coupons generously gifted to me from one of our team members.  Because of these 16 more children will be blessed.

And on Saturday I collected all the loose school supply items and put them into 297 bags to make nicer fillers.  More blessings.

Yesterday I got a text from my friend Lisa in Virginia who said she was respectfully asking me to quit praying for stuffed animals because she's been inundated with hundreds of them to bring up for our packing party.  More of God's supply through this sweet friend.  We're up to 16,000 stuffed animals now and praying to get to at least 18,000 or 19,000 before the packing party.

God, I KNOW you are God.  I KNOW you have a plan.  Help me learn in new ways what it means to cease striving.

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