“There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?” (John 6:9)
Over the past 35 years, I have belonged to churches which have consistently allowed me to volunteer in my “sweet spot”…. that place where my gifts, my passions, and the needs of the world intersect. They have encouraged me to serve within my congregation and but also in the community at large. One of my current “beyond the church walls” activities is my work with WhatTheVoteIdaho!, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that conducts voter registration at high schools and colleges, encouraging student participation in this vital process. (Take a look at our very cool website). And, while I have your attention, I’ll remind you that October 14 is the last day to register before the November 8 election…if you or someone you know needs to register for the first time, if you’ve changed your name, if you’ve moved, if it’s been a while since you voted. Pass the word.
In this work, I have had fascinating conversations with students. For some, the events of the past few years have made them eager to use their voices at the polls. Others question whether voting is even worth the effort…it’s just one measly vote, after all. I point them to recent Idaho races that were decided by 5 or 6 votes. Yes, those little things (like one vote) DO matter!
One of my gifts is in organizing events, and “I love it when a plan comes together” (to borrow a phrase from character Hannibal Smith of the 80s television show The A-Team.) But I am also a big believer in the power of little things. The Bible gives countless depictions of God using small efforts to bring about amazing results. I visualize a time, after I get to heaven, when the Lord tells me stories about instances when I had a meaningful impact in the lives of others…and I bet I’ll be surprised. Many of those times will be the “small things” that I hardly noticed at the time. Perhaps she was lifted up by the few moments when I touched her forearm, looked into her tear-filled eyes, and just listened. Perhaps it was a random phone call that, coincidentally, happened to come at just the right moment for him. Maybe hearts were gladdened by those times when all I did was just show up.
American culture challenges me to work hard and aspire to accomplish big things…so being open to the moment and being fully present to others feels unstructured, unproductive and counterintuitive. I try to be guided by my grand-puppies. These dogs are the masters of being fully present – of gazing into my eyes as if to say, “At this very moment, you’re not merely important. You are the ONLY person in the world to me, and I love you to my very core.” After all, that’s how God views them. How validated would others feel if I could, in some small way, convey that sentiment to them.
Release me, Lord, from clinging to my need for accomplishment, which interferes with my ability to notice those holy moments you place in my path. Give me a willingness to be fully present to each of those you love. Amen.