Friday, May 27, 2011

Joplin and the Rubbermaid tables

God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong- 1 Cor. 1:27

Like most everyone else, I wondered how to respond to the Joplin tornado crisis. I wanted to immediately jump in the car and go help the people. But Jeanie reminded me to pray and wait for God’s direction. She’s pretty smart. Unfortunately, like Peter, I tend to just jump in where I think I’m needed. God often has different plans. He almost always wants me to “go” but He usually has a different itinerary than I have scheduled.

A few days later, I had a phone call with a buddy in Joplin who is a counseling colleague and he said, “come on out here. We need your help.” It was God’s directive, so I headed to Joplin and here I am. I am helping do counseling with employees of the Home Depot that was destroyed.

I have a break from the action, so I wanted to write. Thank you for your prayers for my brief time here. Needless to say, it's pretty crazy. But hope survives.

I dropped off a load of donated items from First Baptist Branson to Forest Park Baptist church in Joplin early this morning. That church is doing a great job with helping the community. There are tons of people there and a lot of supplies. They are fulfilling the true call of a church to a community in need.

I'm spending the day in groups specifically with associates from the Home Depot. They are going through a lot of trauma. They had one co-worker killed and a lot of injuries. But Home depot is taking such good care of their employees, financially and emotionally. The employees are sharing a lot of shock and hurt and grieving through their loses.

They will "open" again next week in their parking lot and will eventually have a huge air-conditioned tent as their temporary store for Joplin’s rebuilding. They are committed to rebuilding a brand new store and think they'll have it finished by December (Dec. 7, 2000 is when the store was built). They'll have a big grand re-opening.

One interesting fact: a bunch of the employees were saved by rubbermaid tables. I know. Kinda weird. But they crowded underneath them and, though they were battered, they held. The employees can't quit talking about them.

It reminds me that God often uses the most unusual things to protect His people. God loves to uses the unlikely. He loves to confound the wise. Rubbermaid tables. They weren’t built to protect people from tornados, but they were the very shield that protected dozens of people from harm.

I think we are all Rubbermaid tables. We all have potential to be used in ways we never imagined. We just have to be willing. God can use a donkey, God can use a shepherd, and He can use us. We just have to be willing.

Let’s continue to pray for the people of Joplin, but let’s pray for ourselves too- that when crisis hits, we’ll go to Him first, and then be willing to be the “tables” God desires.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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