“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides.”
~1 Peter 4:11
The sun had a few more moments to hang in the sky, so I threw on my hat and tumbled out the door for a quick walk. It had been a long day of listening to people’s suffering. My heart and head needed clearing. A gentle breeze blew past me, pushing my hat off of my head. I reached to pick it up when I heard God’s gentle whisper.
“Noah was faithful,” He said.
“Noah trusted me to build the ark, even when there were no signs of rain,” He explained.
“What’s that got to do with me?”
“I want you to serve me with the same faithfulness. I want you to do my work even if you can’t see the reason why or see the fruits of your labor,” He explained.
“You drive a hard bargain,” I said. “I’m often tired.”
“I know you are. I’ll give you the strength,” God said warmly. I walked in silence the rest of the way, pondering God’s words.
I thought about how we are all asked to do God’s work in some way. The art of ark building—heading God’s call—is simply having faith. It means that we don’t rely on our own understanding, but instead, we rely on God. I finished my walk just as the sun turned out her light for the night. I sat in the dark of my garden for a few minutes before heading on into the house. “I’ll need your help. I can’t do it on my own,” I whispered.
God put His loving hand on my shoulder. That was the only answer I needed.
“Be kind to one another…”
On my morning walk, I came across a bird’s nest that had fallen from a tree during the night. I picked it up and marveled at its construction. Hundreds of twigs intertwined with each other to make a sturdy home. My eye caught one twig in particular. It was incredibly small. I wondered how the bird had even seen it. Why had the bird chosen it? Wasn’t it too small to make much of a difference?
Like the nest, our lives are made up of many intertwining things. There are our joys and our sorrows, our victories and our losses, our achievements, and our regrets. Even our small acts of thoughtlessness or disrespect will become a part of other people’s lives. So too, will our smallest acts of kindness. Let’s add to other’s lives in positive ways, even in small measures. Smile at a stranger. Open the door for someone. Say “Thank you.” Let the car ahead of you merge into your lane. Invite the person in line behind you with one item to check out before you. Be the little twig in the nest today in a positive way. Practice kindness, even on a small scale. It can make a big difference.
“Rise, let us go…”
“God, the storms in my life get me so discouraged,” I confessed as I readied myself for sleep. “I think about Jesus, and the storms He had to go through. When He knew that He would be betrayed after the Last Supper, He said, ‘Rise, let us go,’ and walked to His execution on the cross. How could He do that? How could He so willingly face such torture when I can barely face the problems I have?” I asked.
“Because I was with Him, just as I am with you, Sparrow,” God said softly.
“But I’m not as brave or as strong as Jesus.”
“You don’t have to be,” God answered. “Just trust me. That’s all the strength and bravery that you need—your love for me,” God said and put His hand on my shoulder. “Everything is going to be alright. The storms will pass.”
“Thank you for reassuring me. And thank you for your Son.”
“You are welcome,” God said. “Now, get some rest.”
I promised myself that in the morning, I’d face whatever I had to face with God’s help—I would do my best to rise and go.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”
While I was out of town visiting my children, the weeds in the garden grew so tall that I could barely get to the plants. I wanted to clear them out, but the summer’s heat and the smoke from the nearby wildfires stopped me. Every time I went out to water, I felt a pang of guilt—the garden looked so forlorn and unkempt.
Yesterday, I was able to tug on my overalls and sit on the soft, damp clay and dig out the offending growth. I had hours of work ahead of me, but I didn’t mind; I had the bees to keep me company. They buzzed about my head, visiting the blossoms. The birds sang sweet songs to me, perched in the pear trees. The wind ran her fingers through the tall Poplars, just beyond the fence; the sound of the leaves a little symphony.
“Thank you, for this beautiful day, God,” I said. “Thank you for this garden and all the life around me.” I popped a cherry tomato in my mouth and savored the burst of flavor. I lovingly lifted a wayward branch, heavy with fruit, and placed it back inside the tomato cage. “Jesus said that how we treat the least of us is how we treat Him. Does that include how we treat tomato bushes?” I asked, smiling. “I hope that you feel my love for you this morning.”
“I do,” whispered God.
“Good, because I adore you,” I said. The simplest of tasks can be worship if we allow them to be, even weeding a vegetable garden on a warm summer’s morning.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others…”
“I want you to be a light for others,” God told me on our morning walk together.
“I thought I was already,” I said, rather defensively.
“Yes, but I want you to really shine now. Really burn.”
“What about burning?” I asked. I wasn’t thrilled with the word.
“The work of being a candle is that it has to burn in order to share its light,” God explained.
“You want me to burn?” I asked. I’m sure God could hear the concern in my voice.
“I want you to burn with my love for you. I want you to be on fire with the Holy Spirit. I want you to shine so brightly that other’s hearts will be illuminated.”
“So, it’s a metaphor, this fire you speak of,” I said, relieved.
“Of course it is Sparrow,” God smiled. ” I want you to fall even more in love with me. I want you to trust me even more than you do.”
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“I’ll help you,” He said gently as He rested His hand on my shoulder.
God wants you to do the work of burning for Him, too. To share your light with others, you’ve got to be on fire for God. It doesn’t happen on its own; you’ve got to strike the match. Ignite your reality with God.