Small things–and my dream job

Rez's New Name team members standing behind the gifts donated by WA girls' soccer team

Rez’s New Name team members standing behind the gifts donated by WA girls’ soccer team

I’ve decided what job I want in heaven.

It came to me as I sat with a few other women around a table covered in toiletries, jewelry, lotions, and other small gifts. These items had been donated by the girls on the Wheaton Academy soccer team my husband, Dave, coaches. An annual tournament they play in encourages every team to create a service project, and for the past two years the WA girls have supported New Name, a local ministry that partners with area churches to reach out to and walk alongside women in sex trafficking and adult entertainment industries. Last year they made cards to go into the gift bags that New Name teams deliver. This year they went a step further and purchased items to go into the gift bags. Dave gave up a practice for the girls to shop and then gather back at school to make cards and listen as I told them about New Name’s ministry.

gift driveA few days later the members of my church’s New Name chapter unloaded all the purchases at Church of the Resurrection, and we organized them and packed gift bags for outreach.

We oohed and aahed over the pretty soaps and the jewelry, and I told the group, “You know, one of these gifts may be used specifically by God to open a woman’s heart to Him. In a few weeks the girls who purchased these may not even remember what they bought; they might see what they did today as a small thing, but they may discover when they get to heaven that this very lotion”—I held up the bottle in my hand—“may make an eternal difference. Won’t it be awesome to trace it all back! To see how all our stories connect into the Big Story!” It hit me then, and I said, “That’s the job I want in heaven—to follow the stories of people’s salvation and growth in Christ back to all the ‘small’ things that played parts in it. What an awesome job it would be to write down the creativity of God in weaving it all together!”

In chapter 4 of Zechariah, the angel of the Lord visits Zechariah and gives him a vision that encourages the Israelites to keep on with the slow, laborious work of rebuilding the temple. This new temple is a very small accomplishment when compared to the temple that was destroyed, but the angel says, “Who dares despise the day of small things…?” and he goes on to tell Zechariah that the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth and see each act of obedience.

In Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage, he wrote, ”In God’s work the day of small things is not to be despised. Though the instruments be weak and unlikely, God often chooses such, by them to bring about great things. …Though the beginnings be small, God can make the latter end greatly to increase; a grain of mustard-seed may become a great tree.”

Don’t despise the small things you’re doing. Don’t get discouraged. Keep doing them! Encourage others to persevere as well. Listen as the Spirit leads into seemingly “small things.”

And maybe in heaven I’ll get to write down one paragraph of God’s great story, and we’ll see that each of our “small things” has great significance.

New Name checkBy the way, the tournament directors awarded the top three service projects with a cash prize, and the WA team won first place! They’re donating their $1,000 prize to New Name.

When death breaks in

This morning I learned of the death of a former student.

Sudden, unexpected death.

Now, in this season of life, when we read verses like Zechariah’s pronouncement about Christ’s birth: “…the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,” death has again triumphed, and a family is weeping. Christmas will forever be changed for them. Even when the great waves of grief have passed, every year, in the midst of celebration, there will be a tinge of sorrow.

Death has broken in.

My soul rages when I hear news like this. Somewhere deep down in me is the knowledge that this is wrong. It should not be like this. We learn to live with dysfunctional families, fallen bodies, mental illness–all the “subtle” reminders of a broken system. But then death breaks in and hauls us up short. We turn the corner from “life is hard but endurable–even good at times” to find that the passage before us is gone. It has dropped off and all we see is darkness.

“This is unacceptable,” I want to say.

But I have no power to change it. In fact, in my own small way, I, too, will wreak death as I walk through my days: wounding those I love most, including my own self.

I don’t always notice this, but then a life that intersects with my own is snuffed out, and capital-D Death makes me wail with a specific-yet-vague knowing of the shadow that hovers over our planet and in our very hearts.

At times like this I get a glimpse into what God must have felt when His beloved image-bearers made that irrevocable choice that doomed all of creation to groaning and travailing in a bondage of corruption.

God sorrowed–far more than we because He could see the great contrast between what was planned and what we chose.

But then He did more! The Lion of the tribe of Judah roared.

We thought it was simply a whimper–an insignificant birth, a controversial life, an ignominious death.

But no! It was a roar! “It is finished!” was a victory cry. His death had swallowed up death itself.

We are in the night of sorrow.

But morning will come.