I was remembering today some of the many stories our family loves to share. One of the stories is about the day our family shared fifteen minutes in the spotlight, and boy did we shine!
It was a Saturday filled with chores and yard work. Every man, woman, and child was working in the neighborhood, and we were determined to look just as busy. We mowed, and cleaned, weed-eated, and cleaned out storage buildings. Everyone was wearing their clothes that had the least amount of life left,but still enough fabric to sufficiently cover. I had my short hair pulled up in two stubby ponytails, no make-up, a stained T-shirt, baggy jean shorts, old tennis shoes, and no socks. Chris was wearing old jeans, a battered tattered ball cap, and a once white T-shirt whose stains were a checklist of projects completed that day. Grass Stain, mowed yard. Oil stain, changed spark plugs. Feathers, fed chickens. Ketchup, tried to feed himself.
The kids were in no better shape. But the stains were of a different nature. Yellow stain, tried to grab Rachael's banana Popsicle. Larger yellow stain, Rachael threw the Popsicle. Grass stain, rolled in grass. Red stain, blood from falling out of tree. More red stains-blood from retaliating for being pushed from tree. I have found that the stains on the backs of the kids clothes are the most disturbing. These are things placed their by the other two children. There I find things, but I ask no questions. Green slimy stains. ( Note to self: Find Kleenex holder for swing set.) Brown foul smelling stains. (I assume that one involves the dog.) And the most prominent stain, small dirty hand prints, most likely not from hugging. The kids clothes were more of "trying to wear one more time before the seams split". I let them dress themselves, so clothes were selected for their location in the drawer(whatever's on top) instead of for actual style purposes.
To say the least we were a motley looking crew. When the sun started to set, and the mosquitoes started to bite, it was time for dinner. The general, unwritten, and solemn rule in our house is, if mom's day involved a lot of manual labor, someone else will be slaving over the stove. The one who has been most willing to step up is the short order cook at Wendy's. We piled in the car and headed to Wendy's to go through the drive thru for dinner. ( We were a social services dream case, and I wasn't going to give anyone the opportunity to stumble across us.)
After eating in the parking lot, Chris pulled across the street to a gas station. Near the gas pump was parked a beautiful white stretch limo. Chris parked where we could admire it while he ran in to the bathroom. As he came out, he was walking with a man in a nice suit. I immediately knew what Chris was up to. He wanted to find out who was in the limo. They chatted for a moment and then Chris got back in the car. It was empty.
"DO you guys want to look in the limo?"
"Yeeeeeeeaaaahhhh! Oh dadddy, It's just like Hannah Montana's!" So the kids piled out, and I warned them not to touch anything. "Just Look."
As the kids all exited the same car door, at the same time, Chris leaned over and whispered,
"Come on, we're going for a ride."
"Yeah, I asked the guy what he would charge to take us for a ride, and he said nothing. The people who rented it didn't use all their time."
"You can't be serious?!!!!!"
"I'm dead serious. Come on!"
My family, the poster family for Feed the Children, with all their tattered , stained, stains still setting from dinner, sweaty, sticky and stinky was climbing into a stretch limo, which would surely never be the same.
The condo on wheels was beautifully decorated with mirrors, and lights, roses and crystal glasses, black leather interior, and tinted windows. It was a very surreal moment.
The kids couldn't stop talking, and changing seats, trying to take it all in at once. From the seat behind the chauffeur Rachael, age 5 at the time, spoke up.
"Wow, I'm special now."
The chauffeur turned quickly around and said, "Honey, you were already special. Being in a limo doesn't make you special."
Rachael's little eyes were bright and her ears attentive, as he continued.
"You're very special to God. Right now, I feel special having you in my limo." Turns out the driver was a pastor.
I sat watching my family, in a limo that just an hour ago, was used in an effort to impress others out of low self worth, was now being used to build a little girl's God worth. We made special plans that night in the limo. We promised the kids, if they married a strong Christian we would try to get them a limo for their wedding day. They all decided on the same driver. We talked about daddy's gift of humility. He doesn't think he's better than anyone else, and yet, he doesn't think he 's beneath anyone either. His motto: "It never hurts to ask." He never eliminates any possibility, no matter how far fetched or seemingly unobtainable. We were in a limo, simply because he asked. He is why we have Triple Cross Farms. I saw the price tag and croaked. He saw God's provision.
We had a wonderful thirty minute drive in the limo. The interesting part was when we pulled into the parking lot at the Speedway again. A whole new crowd was there. A crowd that had not seen us load up. But there was definite interest to see us get out. I saw wives nudge husbands. Heads peaked out of windows and around the pumps. Commerce ceased in the food mart as clerks strained to see, and little faces pressed up against the glass. To further climax the moment, the chauffeur jumped from the car, ran to the passenger door and with great exaggerated movement solemnly opened the door. Guess who was the nearest to the door? The Hee Haw wife. As everyone leans in expectation as movement is seen in the limo, out emerges what ..... is that a tennis shoe with gum on the bottom? My pasty white legs blind the crowd, but not before they are treated to a buffet of food stains, a glimpse of "Hollywood's 100 worst dressed" all rolled into one, and a visual montage to accompany the song, "who let the dogs out." It was tragic yet hilarious, memorable yet unforgivable. As I exited as quickly as possible, we were all treated to another phenomenon. Rachael exited the limo, as she imagined herself to be, not as she was. You'd have thought Rachael was in a tiara and gown. She exited with style, and a smile that I will never forget. The boys did their usual, let's squeeze out together routine. And Chris climbed out like it was just another day in the life of the Clampets. (Though I saw a twinkle in his eye.) Oddly, everyone still stood frozen and still as we pulled out. Some images just take a moment to recuperate from.
That night, we weren't famous, but we were favored. God above smiled on us and favored us with a little special treat. It really made me think of salvation. That moment when the King of all Glory invites you into His Kingdom. We are filthy, and stained yet He bids us to come as we are. If you try to take the time to clean up first, you might miss that opportunity.
And still how many Christians still live in a mentality of " I don't deserve that. I can't have that."
You're right! You don't deserve it! You can't earn it! But God wants to favor you with it! How many "limo rides" do we miss, sitting on the curb while the limo door is standing open, beckoning us to enter? Don't miss the ride because you think you can't afford the trip!
1 Corinthians 1:27 "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise........and things which are not to bring to nought things that are. That no flesh should glory in his presence."
When we emerged from that limo that night, there was no doubt in any body's mind that we weren't there because we deserved to be, we were there because we were invited. Invite God into your world of foolishness and nothingness. That is the canvas He's looking for to confound a lost world.
So our fifteen minutes of fame have ended, but our Heavenly Father's favor will last for a lifetime!