This month, I am working through Melanie Shankle’s online study, Church of the Small Things. I devoured her book in two days and with every page, I thought, AMEN. Her introduction in the book and the first session in the study centers on the feeding of the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish.
We all know the story. 5,000 gather to hear Jesus teach. And he does. All day. The disciples start to recognize a restlessness in the crowd, as well as their own stomachs growling, and ask Jesus if maybe they should send everyone away for some food. You know how it goes from there. A little boy, his small lunch of five loaves and two fish, Jesus blesses it, and then the disciples distribute the food. When everyone is full, they have 12 baskets left over of food.
Melanie says this, “But you know who never gets a shout-out? The mom who packed that lunch in the first place.”
Listen, I pack three lunches a day most days of the week. All year long. And it gets hard to come up with new, exciting, healthy foods to put in those lunches. Not to mention, our tight budget limits us from frivolously spending on things like pre-packed Goldfish and cute packets of cookies.
No, I have to put our golden ALDI penguins in a ziplock bag like I am certain women did in the pioneer days.
The number of days I get a “thank you” for packing those lunches? Zero. Unless Dr is physically standing there watching me make them, which has happened on occasion and is as awkward as it sounds.
Also, the number of times I think about what my children will do with the lunches other than eat the food themselves? Zero.
Highly likely that mom who packed the five loaves and two fish felt basically the same things I do. Just get something resembling food in a couple of baggies and get them out the door.
And we all have those tasks, right? Those ordinary, mundane, every-day chores we tackle because we are adults and the children aren’t tall enough to reach inside the top-loading washer yet.
We never give them another thought apart from simply accepting they must be done. We don’t concern ourselves with how God will use that small, ordinary act because we are likely standing at the counter making those lunches or moving laundry from the washer to the dryer or stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce thinking about the next thing on our To Do List, worrying over a conversation we had with our kids, and mentally figuring out how much money we have left in our grocery budget.
What we are most likely NOT doing is offering that small task as a sacrifice to God.
Although, we would all agree God’s word tells us to do just that.
The Message says it this way…
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” ~Romans 12:1
Our ordinary, walking-around life as an offering.
We are surrounded with consumption and achieving and Pinterest worthy wowing and we wonder if we can live fully free, content, joyful in the everyday.
Can we live Grateful in our Ordinary, Walking-Around Life?
This month, as the holiday season whips into full swing, we are going to focus only on Gratitude Friday. No Tuesday How To Be posts. No steps one through five on how to make your home holiday ready. No craft tutorials guaranteeing you save money but spend enormous amounts of precious time. Those sorts of offerings are wonderful and beautiful and necessary for so many.
Just not here.
Here, we are going to return to the Truth. To the heart of our community.
Building grateful nests rooted in Him.
Over the four Friday’s in November, we will go back to the beginning, being grateful for Something, then grateful for Everything, and then grateful for One Thing. Look at our gratitude steps through the lens of the holidays.
We’re not in a rush. We’re not adding to our To Do Lists. But we are going to breathe out stress and breathe in rest.
Grateful in Our Small…
Before we can get started, before we can begin with our plumb line of gratitude, we have to tackle the very thing that steals our rest and joy and thrives in our crazy and hurried.
“Do not despise the small beginnings…” ~Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)
Before we can find our “small beginnings,” we have to conquer the first part of the verse.
“Do not despise.”
Despise is a big word, with big feeling, and big implications. Synonyms for “despise” are words like hate, loathe, detest, abhor.
In scripture, we see the nation of Israel despised by Eygpt. David declaring he was despised but God loved him anyway. The good Samaritan was first listed as the despised Samaritan, despised tax collectors, serving two masters, one loved and one despised. Then there are those minor prophets when God was uber mad at Israel and said things like, “I despise the arrogance of Israel, and hate their fortresses. I will give this city and everything in it over to their enemies.” YIKES. That’s Amos 6:8 by the way.
God despises sin, He despises when we chose to ignore Him, He despises when we willfully disobey. It is a strong word and when used, God is pretty serious about it.
But this is exactly what we do. We despise small.
We live in a culture that dive-bombs us with just how much we should despise small, ordinary, walking-around life.
Cable tv says buy at the top of your budget, renovate all at once, and here are the latest trends you must incorporate into the design. Celebrity magazines tell us teenagers can start makeup empires and wear ten-karat diamond rings and spend hundreds of thousands on our appearance. Car companies vroom and swerve and dance their way into convincing us luxury equals this car and success equals this car and fun equals this car. Movies and musicians and politicians tell us who we should value, who we should listen to, who we should believe in and the other side? They are small and despised.
We breathe in “despised” with every breath we take.
Our lives as wives, school teachers, nurses, moms, Bible teachers, PTA members, greeters, worship team members, administrative assistants, event planners, executives, offering plate passers, play date organizers, neighbor, small group leader, doctors, runners, retirees, infertiles, cancer patients, dishwashers and first responders, they all seem small, at least sometimes.
Everything around us has taught us we’re not enough, we’re not worth it, we are small and we despise small.
No wonder we struggle to bring our small, humble offerings of gratitude to our Father.
And that’s exactly what scripture instructs us to do. Bring our small, everyday, ordinary, walking-around life as an offering to God.
So before we can begin, before we write a single item on a gratitude list or crack the spine on a gratitude journal, we first have to stop despising our small. We have to agree to breathe out “despised” and breathe in Small.
What small things, everyday, ordinary, walking-around life things do you despise?
What about your sleeping, eating, going-to-work everyday life do you believe is not enough?
We must declare we will no longer spend our lives despising our small, everyday, walking-around life. Our lives meant enough and were BIG ENOUGH for Christ to die on the cross.
In our walking-around life, just like the mom who probably packed her son’s lunch of five loaves and two fish, God can transform small into miraculous.
Our first step is to simply stop despising the small.