by Rachel Burkum
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John wanted to go. He fingered the colored pamphlet he’d received in church the day before. It was a bit tattered from traveling around in his back pocket, but it was just as valuable to him as when the minister had handed it to him.
“John! I need that stack of paper.”
John rose quickly from his cluttered desk, crumpling the pamphlet as he hurriedly shoved it back into his pocket. “I’m coming,” he answered Matt. “Give me a minute to get the palette off the loading dock.”
He usually enjoyed his work. Sitting behind the printing press could get wearisome as his eyes grew tired of watching thousands of the same impression fly by, but overall, he was satisfied. But lately John had felt the twinge of dissatisfaction. Was he really meant to be here? Should he be making more of his life? He hardly made enough money to pay the bills and feed his family. Was that what God really wanted out of him?
Paper, ink, time, breakdowns and more paper. The days grew on. The pamphlet in John’s pocket remained, seeming to burn a hole in his heart. Why couldn’t he be one of the fifteen going? Why did finances have to stop him from serving God? His hands were stained with color, proving the hours he’d spent behind the press. He was a hard working man. He was confident, strong, smart…why did God keep closing the doors on him?
“Hey, John, is this yours?”
John glanced to Matt and saw the pamphlet that he must have dropped. It wasn’t of use to him anymore. The team was gone. “Yeah, but throw it away. I don’t need it.” He thought back to when he was a child, learning in Sunday school. He could remember the times his teacher had told him about people in other countries. People that didn’t know about Jesus. People who couldn’t afford Bibles. People who didn’t even have homes. Even at that young age, he’d felt the desire to go. But life had held him back. Every time a mission trip came up, he was either sick, couldn’t get the vacation time from work, or couldn’t afford the money it took to go. John had always wanted to serve God – why the difficulties in succeeding at that task? He was a printer. Why had God put him here? Why couldn’t he be out there doing some good?
John watched the words shoot by in a blur. If he could read as fast as the press printed, by now he’d have the whole Bible memorized. They’d started this print job several weeks before, and were finally nearing completion for a company that needed the large supply of the books. John imagined all of the Bibles complete and bound in leather, ready for eager hands that wanted to learn. It brought a smile to his face, while his heart still ached.
Last week, another chance had come and gone. Five of his close friends were in Africa right now, ministering to the lost. Oh, how he wished he could be there to see the faces light up as the Truth was discovered. But once again, he was left behind. Money was tight. His wife was sick. He was having trouble making his mortgage payments. But the press flew on, and the days piled on top of each other as if they never existed.
John glanced at his calendar, and crossed off one more day. Where had the years gone? He was a week away from retirement. Not that he wanted it that way. He didn’t know how he’d keep himself busy all day long. He was trained to be in the print shop, not sit at home and watch TV. But if he didn’t retired, he’d be forced to quit as the company shifted priorities around cutting back and hiring new blood. John had served many hard years here, but a part of him would miss it.
He couldn’t help but remember his desire to be an overseas missionary. The dream had long since faded as chances had all been left behind. He wasn’t angry – just disappointed in a way. And now…money would be tighter than ever.
As John was pulling on his jacket and gathering his things to leave for the day, a stranger appeared in the doorway. John lowered his hand from turning off the lights, and looked at the dark man in surprise. Any customers were to deal with the salesmen and executives in the front offices, not come back to the print shop. “Can I help you?”
“Are you John?”
The thick accent caught John off guard. “Yes, I am. What can I do for you?’
“Oh, sir, you’ve already done more than you can imagine.” Tears glistened in the man’s eyes. “Thank you.”
John’s confusion was doubled. “I’m sorry…I don’t understand.”
“People here call me Adam,” the man replied, “but I was not born in America. I am here, studying to take the Word of God back to my country and teach.”
John continued to search Adam’s face for any clues as to what he was getting at. “That’s wonderful. But I still don’t understand what I’ve done for you.”
Adam reached into the backpack that was slung over one shoulder. He withdrew a Bible, tattered and worn from obvious years of use. “This has belonged to me for many years. I received it from a group of missionaries that visited my village. They taught me about God, and this Bible helped me grow in my faith.”
John was very happy for Adam, but his confusion had not subsided. “I see.”
“When I decided to come to America to learn,” Adam continued, “I made a promise to myself that I would thank the man who had made this Bible possible.” He stepped forward, opening the Bible to the first couple pages. He pointed, holding the book open for John to see.
John squinted at the small type, but his eyes widened as he saw his company’s logo. The realization hit him like a freight train. He remembered sitting behind the press, gazing at those pages, one after another until he’d grown tired of seeing them. He remembered picturing the finished project. And he remembered how worthless he felt as he’d seen his friends traveling worldwide to spread the Gospel while all he could do was sit home and print. “I printed this Bible.”
Adam nodded. “Yes. I wanted to thank you. Without you, I might never have been able to get this Bible. There are many people to thank, but you are one of them. You were a very important part.”
John couldn’t help but laugh. It started out quiet, then evolved into a chuckle until he threw his head back in the most joyful laughter he’d experienced in years. Oh, how foolish he had been. “God, I’m so sorry,” he exclaimed to his Maker. How many years had he felt worthless? How many years had he missed everything that God was using him for? He looked back at Adam and shook his head, his eyes full of happiness. “Thank you, Adam. Thank you.”
There are many parts that make up the Body of Christ. Some people are feet, going to spread the Word. Some people are eyes, seeing the souls in need of Jesus. Some people are ears, listening to those who are hurting. Some people are hands, making materials possible. Each part of the Body is necessary and important. No matter what position God has placed you in, remember you are being used for the Kingdom.
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