I couldn't believe my ears. She was telling her friend "I didn't do anything today. I feel like a big waste of time." Then she went on to talk about her experience on the work site. My friend had big expectations for that first day on the mission trip. She wanted to build something, change a life, transform a community. All she did was dig up some dirt and break a few rocks.
I thought about this later that night. A lot of us look at accomplishment in terms of finished products. We can work for hours and days but if we don't finish the project our efforts appear to us as being unsuccessful. We measure our effectiveness by the end result. If we don't complete the job then it was a waste.
A few years ago I heard a speaker at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism say that it takes seven people to bring a person to saving faith in Christ. He said that when all is said in done we may very well meet someone in heaven who will thank us. They'll say, "You were number three. You thought I wasn't listening but I heard every word and it set the stage for the next person who came along. It all added up until I finally realized the truth."
Paul said it even better when describing his role in the church. He says in I Corinthians, "I planted, Apollos watered and God made it grow." (I Cor 3:6) You see life is a progression or a series of actions that build on each other.
I reminded my young friend that last year we carried on the work of another church group who erected the walls of the church we were working on. This year we came back and helped sheet rock the walls of a second story someone else had put up.
It's important to remember that even if we never see the effect of what we are doing, God will use it to make great things happen. The key is to remain faithful and do what we can do. It was true there on the mission field. And it is true right here with what we are doing today. So go to it and give it to God.