In the summer of ’98 I set out on my first oversees mission trip. I was elated to work at a youth camp, tucked away in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain! I was excited about the opportunity to share my faith and practice my Spanish. Cleary, God would divinely use the gifts and experiences He had given me to share the good news of His son! I was thrilled beyond measure! That was, until I learned that my job was not what I originally thought it would be. Instead of working as a camp counselor sharing with and serving the Spanish youth, I would be serving alongside the local missionaries and camp directors lending a hand wherever needed around the camp.
**That was code for: I was going to be working as part of the construction and clean up crew around the camp.**
“ I have to do what?”
“Seriously, what did they expect me to do that would be of any real value?” I thought.
My excitement quickly dissipated. Not only would my interaction with the youth be limited, but later I learned the predominate language spoken there was not Spanish, but Catalan (a mix of both French and Spanish). This was not the opportunity I had assumed God would provide for me so that I could continue sharpening my Spanish. Things were not turning out the way I had envisioned them to be.
No, In fact, they got worse!
Later, AFTER arriving at the campground, I soon discovered that I would not be sleeping in a traditional cabin or bunkhouse. To say I was shocked when I was shown my sleeping quarters was an understatement! For the next several months, I would be sleeping on the ground in a pitched tent tucked away from the campers…..ALL summer long!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love camping, but for a WHOLE SUMMER?? On the ground??
No, this was not at all what I had signed up for!
I had more to give! I was on fire for the Lord and I wanted to share that with the world!
Why would God choose to use me this way?
Where was God in all of this?
In my heart I knew I had something more to offer.
Yet, this is exactly where the Lord had me. For the next 2 ½ months I was on my hands and knees scrubbing floors, washing dishes, cleaning up the camp grounds and working hard with the construction team in the blazing hot sun.
It was one L O N G summer!
But what if God cared more about shaping my heart than the position I held at camp that summer?
Once I adjusted to the shock of disappointment, I knew I had a choice to make. I could either choose to find the beauty where the Lord planted me or I could despise my current situation, which would inevitably make for one L O N G M I S E R A B L E summer! My perspective of my current situation was everything!
What if God cared more about shaping my heart than catering to my expectations?
What if serving at a camp tucked away in the Pyrenees Mountains was merely the backdrop God used to draw me into deeper waters with Him? No, it wasn’t glamorous and it certainly wasn’t what I envisioned, but what if God used those mundane assignments to reveal hidden treasures?
So, as I mopped floors, cleaned bathrooms and washed dishes, I laid down my agenda and clung to this verse:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord” Colossians 3:23
For many years following that mission trip, I struggled to understand why God had given me “that” assignment. Why did He choose to use me that way? What was I supposed to have gleaned through that season besides a sore back and dirty fingernails? For years, I have prayed to the Lord to answer that question.
Recently, while sweeping Cheerios off the kitchen floor, for what seemed like the 100th time before lunch, I finally felt as though the Lord really answered my prayers. For a brief moment in time, those same questions flooded my mind….
“Why would God choose to use me this way?”
“Where was GOD in this pile of Cheerios?”
In my heart, I knew I had something more to offer.
As those thoughts flooded my mind, I realized God used that season in Spain. He knew one day I would be an exhausted mom who needed encouragement to keep pressing on, but He was also teaching me to see that HE IS THE TREASURE IN THE CHEERIOS. He is there in the midst of those mundane assignments, longing to reveal Himself. If only we will look deeper, then we could see beyond our fleeting feelings of discontentment.
You see, the assignment God later gave me to be a stay-at-home mom so that I could better pour into our family, was not at all what I had originally envisioned for myself. I certainly could not see how it was making use of my Biology/Spanish degree. However, I knew that in order to give my family the best version of me, I had to surrender all those things that competed for my time, attention and affection.
What this “assignment” looks like to others may not seem glamorous. It certainly is not esteemed by our culture and there are no plaques to hang on my wall or raises for a job well done.
The sacrifices have been many, but the rewards are so great! What might seem like a mundane assignment has really been the setting in which God has chosen to squeeze and refine me, thus drawing me closer to Himself. He is in the midst of my Cheerios beckoning me to see more than just a pile of discarded cereal, but rather an opportunity to partner with Him in molding and shaping the next generation of disciples that know, love, obey and serve Him!
My assignment looks different than what I had originally envisioned, but what might seem like a mundane assignment is often filled with hidden treasures as God reveals himself and shapes our heart for His Glory.
Are you in a season of doubt? Are you questioning what God is doing right now? Are you struggling to see where God is in the midst of your current season? I want to encourage you to 1.) Lay down your agenda and 2.) Choose to find the beauty wherever the Lord has planted you.
Let God use your everyday circumstances, those mundane assignments, to shape your heart and reveal Himself to you. He is the hidden treasure in your pile of Cheerios!
Melanie is married to Tim Barosh and they have 6 wonderful children. She also leads a homeschool community of Classical Conversations Inc in Montgomery TX. (www.Facebook.com/ClassicalConversationsMontgomery)