Did ya miss me? I skipped blogging yesterday. It was bound to happen at some point in these 25 days. Finals week is creeping up on me, y’all. Also I chose to spend time cheering on the ACC champions and the Steelers, so blogging just didn’t happen in the past 24 hours.
I was planning to write on something else but I’ve changed my mind. I had a God-moment today and I want to tell you the story of what happened. This is the kind of thing that I would normally call my mom about, but instead I’m going to share it with all of y’all.
Wheaton does this Christmas outreach called Angel Tree. Students pick the name and gift request of a child whose parents are in prison. On each tag is a note from the parent. Most of them read something along the lines of “mommy/daddy loves you! I’m so proud of you. I’m sorry I can’t be there this Christmas.” It’s okay if you need to take a minute to imagine what it would be like to be separated in that way from your family on Christmas. Let your heart break for these families for a minute. I needed a minute when I was reading them.
I saw Jesus as I read these notes. But wait, it gets better.
I ended up picking out two girls, a three year old and a ten year old. It gave me an excuse to wander into the children’s clothing section and pick out the sparkliest pink sweater I could find. But that’s not the point. After trips to a sketchy Wal-Mart and Target, I brought my gifts back to the Office of Christian Outreach to wrap and return them.
That’s where Jesus met me today.
After wrapping one of the gifts, I took it over to the desk coordinator. She commented on my wrapping and we talked for a second about how much life it gives us to really care about these presents and kids. Then, with tears in her eyes, she asked if I had time to listen to a story.
When they had first set up the table in Lower Beamer, a girl came over and asked for an Angel tag. After being handed one, the girl burst into tears. Running around the table, the woman embraced her. She asked what was wrong, head spinning with reasons this girl would be so visibly upset by the Angel tree. Choking back sobs, she said that she had been a recipient of an Angel Tree gift when she was little. She said that it had changed her life. She told the woman that it was so amazing to give back to something when she so tangibly knew that it would make a difference.
Through my own tears, I managed a quiet “wow.”
I realized right then that this girl saw something about Jesus that we all so easily miss. These are the type of places where God likes to move. Jesus calls us to move in obedience, but the things he calls us to do often seem small and insignificant. We wonder if what we do even matters. The things that no one sees. The things that aren’t ending poverty, world hunger, or drawing millions to Christ. What do we do when obedience looks like writing a paper, buying someone a meal, wrapping a Christmas present, starting a conversation, or giving a hug?
We talk a lot about calling here at Wheaton and while I think God can (and does) call people to crazy amazing things, I think we miss what He’s often doing when we look past the small things. Because even in the remotest, unreached places in the world, obedience often still looks like life. It looks like washing dishes, making space to listen, and offering up whatever we have to Jesus.
Just like the widow’s mite. Just like the loaves and fish.
How often do I look at the world like the disciples: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” All I have to do is look at the needs of the world, or even just the people around me, and what I’m doing seems so insignificant. What is good is buying a pink sweater when there are millions of children that are starving, orphaned, and lonely? I feel like a child looking up at her daddy, asking how he can use this small offering I’m holding up. Can you even use this?
I imagine God smiles and shakes his head when we ask that. I can hear Jesus’ loving tone echo in my ears, telling the disciples to “have the people sit down.” He says to us: it’s enough. It’s enough for His power. He’s so pleased with our obedient hearts with the little we’ve been entrusted. He tells us to sit down and watch what He’ll do. All we are called to is to give what we have in obedience. We are called to make our block and He’s the one who makes it a winning play. We give our loaf and our fish and He’s the one who feeds the multitudes.
“So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.” John 6:10-11 (full story)
And He whispers to our hearts again, just be obedient. Give me what you have and watch what I will do.