Tag Archives: Service

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Dirt Roads

A portion of the unpaved southern half of the road where I live.

Georgia Red Clay

I’m sure you’ve either heard of it, or maybe you’ve even gotten your clothes stained by it, but Georgia is famous for “Georgia Red Clay.”

The reddish soil that covers much of the state of Georgia, along with areas in surrounding states, gets it’s color from iron oxide, the reddish-orange shades varying as much as any shade of red rust. It’s almost everywhere.

As a matter of fact, a good portion of the secondary roads in my area look just like the one above.

Georgia White Clay

On the other hand, especially around these parts (Washington County), there is another kind of clay: Kaolin.

4 oz. for $7 on Etsy!

As opposed to the common red clay, Kaolin (nicknamed “white gold” because of its color and its profitability) is mined, processed, and sold locally and around the world in various forms for use in products ranging from paper to lipstick. Actually, over 50% of it is used to give coated paper the “gloss” you might see in quality printer paper or magazines.

FYI, just click on the attached link and learn about one of the world’s largest producers of Kaolin located just 10 miles south of me in Sandersville, GA: Thiele Kaolin Company.

However, what I wanted to write about was not the types of clay that can be found in middle Georgia, but those red clay dirt roads…just like the one two houses down from me…right where the pavement ends.

It’s About the Dust

Two days ago, as I drove by one of these dirt roads, I sensed there was something profound…an important lesson…that I needed to learn then share. However, asking myself “What’s so spiritual about dirt roads?” over and over didn’t bring me any closer to a revelation. Then, as I was in the shower this morning, the truth of it all became clear (or clean, whichever):

It’s about the dust!

What do you get on your car after you travel down a paved road? Nothing. What do you get when you travel down a dirt road? Dust! It covers everything.

Think about it. You could drive a thousand miles down a nice, paved highway, and nobody would be any more the wiser of your long, hard journey. But travel down a dirt road and people will know you’ve been somewhere.

It’s About Serving

In a small, rural town like mine, the people have the tendency to care a little more about their neighbor. It’s not a firm and fast rule, but generally speaking, here you’re more likely to have someone lend you a helping hand than in the middle of a metropolis.

Yet, how do people know when you need a helping hand? How do people know you’ve traveled down a long, dirt road?

So often, in our “big cities,” we live such guarded, relationally-sanitized lives that we could be driven to near exhaustion and no one would be able to tell from the outside. In other words, our cars are clean.

But get down to a place where “everybody knows your business” and what do you find? A more openness about the road of life, a transparency that admits the road is dusty and dirty and has an affect on you.

Are bigger towns with the paved roads really all that better? Consider what the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery had to say about “streets” under the heading of  “A Window into the City’s Common Life”:

[The] street as a setting in the Bible represents what is commonly true of the mood, spirit and well-being of the city. Streets typically line the entirety of a city and serve as its reference points. Descriptions of what takes place “in the streets” therefore function as generalizations about what is going on in the city as a whole. – Leland Ryken et al., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 820.

If the streets of this middle-Georgia pastorate are any inclination, there’s a lot of opportunity to be like Jesus…to be a servant. At least down in these parts people are a little more willing to admit the need to have their feet … or their tires … washed.

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. – John 13:12-16 

It’s easier to be a servant where the roads are dirt 🙂 

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Putting On the Brakes

Pictures In the Dark

I am not supposed to be using a cell phone on a school bus. However, what you see in the picture below is the result of using my cell phone…on the school bus. But note, the brakes were on.

Yes, I used my old iPhone 4S to capture (there’s no click) an image of the instrument panel on my bus. Actually, I took a picture of only one part of my instrument panel: the part that showed my “service brake” was engaged.

As I was waiting for my bus to warm up, I sat there looking at the gauges, making sure everything was in working order. That’s when something crossed my mind that had never occurred to me before – the brake is actually performing a “service.”

IMG_4002

The “Service” Brake

There is no “P” for “Park” anywhere on a school bus. In order to put a bus in “park” one need only engage the service brake (by pulling out a knob) and put the transmission in neutral. When the air brake is “set,” the bus isn’t going anywhere…it’s parked.  The air in the system actually keeps the brakes disengaged; releasing air pressure causes the brakes to set.

Now, again, what got me to thinking is the word “service.” Sure, there’s a technical meaning to the word, but what I pondered was the service part of “service,” like “how can I be of service to you, Madam?” How could bringing something to a compete halt count as a “service?”

Well, sometimes putting the brakes on something can help people more than they realize.

For Their Own Good

There are multiple stories in the Bible where people were stopped in their tracks or kept from doing something. Here are just a few.

  • In Numbers 22 we read of God stopping Balaam, a prophet, with a talking donkey! The Lord had placed an angel in Balaam’s path, preventing him from cursing the children of Israel, but he didn’t see it, and it almost got him killed. God opened the mouth of the little donkey and let it ask, “Why are you beating me?”
  • In 1st Samuel there’s the story of a woman named Abigail. Abigail had a husband who got drunk and picked a bad time to offend King David. When David and his men were on their way to wreck havoc on the man and his village, Abigail ran out to stop David with a little kindness and a little food. “Thank God for your good sense!” said David.  “Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands.” – 1 Samuel 25:33 NLT
  • It was the Holy Spirit Himself who put the brakes on the Apostle Paul’s dream to go to Asia Minor (Acts 16), sending him instead to Macedonia (Europe). One could say this was not only for Paul’s good, but for the good of the world.

How many times have you found yourself traveling down the road toward your dreams when all of a sudden the tires screeched as the brakes locked up solid? How did you react? Were you thankful? Angry? What if God was just trying to keep you from unseen harm? What if God was just wanting to redirect you toward greater things?

The next time God engages the brakes, keep in mind there may be a “service” He’s trying to perform for your good!

 

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