The night was a failure. Even after a day of prayer and fasting.
No one noticed that my heart was beating in time with the Father’s. No one noticed that my soul was alive and refreshed.
People were out breathing in the cool night after the long, scorching day. Last week on my nightly strolls, I had met several women. Under the cover of dusk, we had sat on park benches and talked while children played around us.
But tonight there was nothing invigorating.
A stop at the local store made me wonder where the line between friendly and amorous should be drawn. And why was I always the one to draw the line?
And then there was that woman again. The shriveled Gypsy for whom I had once bought bread and eggs and now every time she saw me she snagged me with a long, anguished tale and a request for a couple of euros. How could I communicate love? Bread, eggs, and euros were not going to alleviate her poverty of soul. Her granddaughters averted their blushing faces.
And that was all. No one else seemed open to conversation. Alone and discouraged, I finished my route and turned toward home.
That’s when truth started to sink it, settling between the churning waves of injured pride and self-pity.
God doesn’t owe me results. He doesn’t owe me deep, blossoming friendships and engaging conversations. If I cultivate a certain level of spiritual maturity, He doesn’t owe me the world on a silver platter.
My service is not qualified by my carnally-defined successes but by my faithfulness. Am I loving (and consequently serving) God with all of my heart? My soul? My strength? My mind?
Years and years ago, my Sunday school teacher gave me a quote that I have kept tucked inside of my Bible ever since. “There is no more powerful force for rebuking all evil things, whether of conduct or of opinion, than that of the quiet, strong, persistent life of a man or woman who goes on from day to day doing the duties of the day well, cheerfully, and with joy.”
As I walked those final blocks home, my sense of entitlement slipped away. “What if?” I wondered. “What if in my day to day journey, I start counting each blossoming friendship and engaging conversation as a blessing rather than my entitlement? What if I named each interaction as a gift rather than my payment for growing in Christ?”
The neighbor man waved and smiled. “Good evening.”
I waved back. “Good evening.” And it was.