Last week, on our Confessions of a Pastor’s Family Facebook page, I shared some wisdom from my three year old, “Little Bit.” (If you haven’t “Liked” us on Facebook yet, hop on over to the right side of this page and click the “Like” button, would you? Follow us on Twitter, too, while you’re at it!).
Now that school is back in session, and I can give Little Bit my undivided attention during the day, we’re trying to get back into a more structured (and more supervised) routine that will keep him out of trouble and keep me sane.
So after our morning walk, I set him up at the kitchen table to do some coloring while I started working on some dinner prep. (Dinner prep between breakfast and lunch is something I try to do every day so that I can reduce the number of kitchen clean-ups and so that our time after school is less stressful. It really works for me, and it’s nice to get back into the habit!)
After a few minutes of coloring quietly, Little Bit and I engaged in the following conversation:
LB: “Mommy, what does God want us to do?”
Me: “What do YOU think?”
LB: “To say, ‘I love you!'”
Me: “Yes, yes he does!”
What a simple thought. But isn’t it profound?
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
1 John 4:11-12.
Indeed, as an outpouring of God’s love for us, we are called to love each other. And friends, make no mistake. We are called to love BIG.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes it this way:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
That’s BIG love. But BIG love comes in all shapes and sizes. No doubt there will be times when we are called to do things on a really large scale as an outpouring of God’s love. But don’t underestimate the significance of the little things. Because opportunities to do the little things come to us most frequently. In fact, if we keep our minds and hearts open to the possibilities, there are opportunities to do the little things every day.
This summer, our family was blessed with a chance to take a break from ministry for a few weeks. To spend some time together and take a vacation. We went to Sky Ranch Family Camp at Ute Trail in Powderhorn, Colorado, and it was one of the very best weeks in the life of our family. Period.
On our first Sunday back at church, this happened. (Click to visit YouTube for a short clip from Kory’s sermon.)
I was sitting with our kids when my husband discovered the love note our daughter wrote on his water bottle (which she apparently wrote four weeks prior, before we left for vacation). And when he acknowledged it from the pulpit, her eyes lit up. She jumped out of her seat. She raised her hands above her head to let him know that the note was from her. And it’s obvious that my husband was truly touched.
“It’s the little things, isn’t it? The little things that mean so much?” — Kory Knott
If you read my most recent post, you already know that God is really messing with me. He’s stirring some things up in my heart and causing me to ask a lot of questions. Between reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted, listening to my husband’s messages during the “Fish Tales” sermon series, helping my kids with the memory verses they’re bringing home from school, and working with our women’s ministry leadership team, God is using a variety of people to deliver a very consistent message to me:
In order to love, we must GO.
We must step out of our comfort zone.
We must bridge the gap.
We must reach out to the marginalized, the seeker, and anyone else who can’t (or won’t) make the first move.
And we must put ourselves “out there” for others in the name of Christ.
“Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations . . .”
I’m desperate to know what this means for me specifically and how God wants me to respond on the larger scale. Because I sense that something lies in wait around the bend. But I have absolutely no clarity right now. It’s all just spinning around in my head, and I feel a bit dizzy. As if I just got off of a merry go round, and I can’t find center. So my only choice is to continue seeking Him and to keep my head and heart open to the possibilities. I’m now reading Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (also by Jen Hatmaker), and I’m trying to find time to make myself available to the Lord every day.
Clarity will come. If I continue to seek.
I know it will.
But in the meantime, I’m trying to do some different little things. Things I haven’t done in a long time and are now way overdue.
For about four months now, I have passed the same homeless man almost every time that I drive to my office. He has one leg and uses crutches. And he stands at the intersection where I exit the tollroad. If you read my post about our encounter with a homeless man in January, you may recall I shared that I’ve struggled in the past with how to respond to these kinds of scenarios. Do I give him money? Do I offer him something else? Is it wise to roll down my window when I’m in the car alone or with the kids?
But after my experience in January, I decided that it’s not my role to play judge and jury with respect to how this man (or any other homeless person) got there. It’s not my role to figure out whether he “deserves” my help or not. It is my role, though, to respond.
To do something.
And it’s up to me to discern what that is on any given day.
In the early years of our marriage, Kory and I used to keep “homeless sacks” in our cars for occasions like this. Sacks filled with nonperishable foods, bottled water, toothbrushes, and other basics that we could give to homeless people we encountered along the way.
We got out of the habit when we moved away from the city because the homeless population in the country is a lot less visible. When we returned to the city, I vowed to get back into the business of keeping homeless sacks with me.
But wouldn’t you know? The supplies for the sacks have been sitting in my utility room for a while now, and I’ve not put them together. I’ve wanted to get the kids involved in the project, and every time I think to do it, they’re in bed. Or not at home.
So the supplies sit.
And every time I exit the tollroad and see that man, I slam my fist on the steering wheel, angered that I forgot.
I said in my book review of Interrupted, that “exposure makes it personal.” And for the last many years, “I’ve left myself unexposed.”
“Out of sight, out of mind” rings so true. I’m embarrassed to admit it. But it’s really honest.
Last week, though, I had a peach on my dashboard. I had grabbed it from the fruit bowl at home to take to work with me as an afternoon snack. As I exited the tollroad, I noticed the man, so I rolled my window down.
I looked him in the eye.
And I asked him if he would like a peach.
“Yes, that would help so much. God bless you.”
I handed him the peach, told him I would be praying for him, and drove off.
That was it.
It certainly wasn’t much.
In fact, I told Kory later that I felt pretty lame offering him something so small when his needs are so big.
But it was a place to start. Something to help me “act my way into a new way of thinking.” To reconnect with the chamber of my heart for those in need again. To break a cycle of simply not noticing.
It came from a loving place. And as I drove off, it felt right.
That’s all I can say about it.
And I can only hope that maybe. Just maybe. He caught a glimpse of God’s love for him in that moment.
The next day, I pulled all of the supplies for homeless sacks out of the utility room and put one together to take with me to the office. (Since then, my sweet daughter has assembled the rest of them.)
When I exited the tollroad, though, the man wasn’t there. In fact, no one was standing on the corner. But the evidence of homelessness (something we learned about during the homeless count in January) was everywhere.
“Another day,” I thought.
But as I sat at the red light, I felt the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudge. Its prompting. Its voice. Almost a whisper in my head:
“Leave the sack on the curb.”
My heart began to race as I looked into my rear view mirror because the morning rush hour traffic was piling up behind me, and I was at the front of the line. But the Holy Spirit is persistent. (Thank goodness because I can be stubborn.) So I put my car in park. I got out. I walked over to the curb. And I left the sack on the ground.
It was a very little thing.
Yet once again.
It just felt right.
Will it make it a difference for anyone? I have no idea.
But I do know this. Doing nothing is no longer an option.
What little thing might God be calling you to do as an outpouring of His love for you? Who needs a “peach” from you today?