God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. – Ephesians 3:20
Part of my daily morning routine is to get up a little earlier than I need to. I do this because it’s typically quiet and I can sit downstairs in stillness and silence. Part of this daily rhythm is centering myself around and in the story of God. I do this through readings and prayer as found in the Book of Common Prayer. I use the Daily Office as my primary tool of establishing daily rhythms of reading Scripture and praying for the world, both globally and locally.
One of the closing, short sections of Scripture is the verse quoted above. It is one the verses that are used to show us what we are entering as we close the office. It is used as a sending verse as we enter into the day and its work. It reminds us that we don’t just merely read and pray, but we are to embody these things in our lives as we journey with each other in our following where the Spirit leads.
This verse has become particularly important and fleshed out for me as of late. Let me give some examples, not in an effort to pat myself on the back, but to show how the Spirit works ahead of us and within us in ways we couldn’t imagine.
1. A little over a month ago, we had our second daughter, Ava. Now giving birth is an amazing spectacle and event in anyone’s life. We should all be thrilled when any new life enters the world. Having Ava reminded me of the reality that we don’t just celebrate healthy lives, but we celebrate the birth of every life, regardless of health or not. We would be thankful for Ava if she were healthy or if she were born with difficulties.
Beyond her entrance into our life, it is beyond imagination how her birth has brought people together in our life. We are part of disparate groups (I’m an interim pastor, lead/participate in, what some call, a house church, work in a public school, etc.) that all came together to provide us with meals, gift cards, hugs, and other well-wishes. The outpouring of love for us and our new daughter is something that we are extremely grateful for and humbled by.
2. The other week I was sent a Friend Request on Facebook. It was from someone with whom I had some mutual friends. This was different though because our mutual friends weren’t people from college or work or some random Kevin Bacon-esque connection. All of the mutual friends were either well known pastors, theologians, or bloggers. So as any good Facebook friend would, I accepted her request, but I had to know how in the world she had found me. Apparently, she had read a comment I left on someone’s blog and had followed the link to my blog. From there she read some of my posts and enjoyed what she had read. As we continued to email back and forth on FB, and much to my humbling surprise, she had been giving out printed versions of some of my blog posts to the homeless people she works with in California. Homeless people on the opposite coast of America are walking around with some of my blog posts and (hopefully) finding encouragement and peace: beyond my imagination. I began blogging hoping to get some ideas out there; ideas that would prod people towards deeper action. Never would I have imagined something like this to occur.
I write this to encourage those who blog, preach, answer phones all day, mentor, home-school, stay at home with kids, share lunch with co-workers, have dinners with their lonely neighbors, or have decided to share their lives with others in ways that perhaps go unnoticed. Continue your good work. It is not for nothing.
3. Besides being an interim pastor at St. Andrew’s Anglican, I have been blessed to lead/participate in, what we have called, Dinner and Discussion. Basically, it is a group of people who get together every other Sunday night either at our house or another house from within the group. We all have dinner together, we discuss a biblical/theological topic, pray, and see what ways we can help those outside of ourselves. We are learning how to live life together and do so that makes us better disciples of Jesus. It is slowly evolving, nowhere near perfect, and can be exhausting (at times) to put together.
Thankfully, these past few weeks have produced some encouragement. I have had many conversations with people, including a dinner with some very like-minded folks who don’t know where else to turn to outside of the established evangelical churches in our area and with a Anglican/house church minded dude from Texas. Some folks within the group have shown me, both verbally and by their actions, that God is at work in their life and that the Dinner and Discussion community has aided in that.
Now how in the world did this happen? I have no idea. I know it isn’t all from me and my efforts. Not by a long shot. I am merely trying to be faithful with the vision and call Jesus has on my life. It is my job to listen, follow, and call others to do the same. All of this has gone beyond my imagination and I am humbled to be able to participate in it.
May we all continue to do the work of the kingdom, for there are no meaningless tasks the Spirit calls us to.