The Day of Small Things

The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.
— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Monday is my day to be home, to do the little mundane things that are absolutely necessary to the both of us thriving here. James and I have a good partnership going, so I never feel like I’m taking on the brunt of the housekeeping, and actually enjoy the smell and warmth of freshly cleaned clothes from the dryer.

Yet, even this rhythm does not stop me from endlessly wishing the small things would be done with. I wish them away, my hands constantly reaching out for more and more, but what has been given slips through the spaces in between my fingers. As I attempt to actually be in this season instead of only begging it to go away, I am regularly reminded of my frailty. This is not how I planned it, not how I wanted it, not what I worked for.

We don’t wonder if God can make good out of bad; we just don’t like that it comes that way. We are the clay telling the potter how to mold us. We crave hero-glory for ourselves, not for the true Hero. We don’t want a God we can’t command.
— Christine Hoover, Searching for Spring

I’ve been diving deep into the book of Amos, flustered by how much it speaks to the culture we live in currently, but also by the way it has cut through me, the double-edged sword that it is. In Amos 5, we get a little taste of the settings in Israel where shrines have been set up for Israelites to worship, in Bethel, Beersheba, and Gilgal. All of these places are highly significant for the fact that they have been placemarkers of promise, the patriarchs meeting with God and that very same God blessing them with a great inheritance. The Northern Kingdom, starting with the golden calf fall of Jeroboam, could not wrap their minds around what it meant to not worship a symbol but God Himself. In all their seeking in these places, for what was promised to their forefathers to become true for them as well, they missed the promise maker, and completely left God out. They sought all of the benefits, but missed the shema.

Before I scoff at the Israelites rampant stupidity, I am reminded of my often flippant emotions that are rocked whenever my idols don’t deliver. Is it any wonder that the stories woven throughout the Scriptures are to teach and correct, to help these raggedy bones begin to have flesh?

Beersheba, one of the sites of the shrines, was the place where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all hear a similar word: I will be with you.

Rather than becoming embittered by what God has not granted us (namely, the ability to comprehend all of reality), we should enjoy the gifts God has given. He gives himself: his presence rather than his plan, his providence rather than his plan, his power rather than his plan, his promises rather than his plan.
— Christine Hoover, Searching for Spring

This idol-loving heart of mine is quickly running from one thing to the next, always checking for where the grass just might be greener, what steps are necessary to get to that place; I am easily discontented while also hiding, not too well, my entitlement. Amnesia quickly settles in even minutes after reading Words of truth and conviction, and I stomp around with these child-sized feet making a ruckus to the Lord about how He is not delivering good on His promises while worshipping dreams rather than Him.

I too, have missed shema. I have missed what it means to remember those words, what it looks like to live in step with obeying God and God alone, what it changes as winter seems to lay hold of my heart. I have forgotten the beauty of the gospel. The liturgy of the world has snuck in, promising quick results, easy work, painless.

The reality of gospel life in ordinary days is not romantic… What happened with the temple builders in Jerusalem is what also happens in our lives: gospel work, no matter the kind, is always met with resistance.
— Christine Hoover, Searching for Spring

There are days when it seems like everything is futile, when these emails feel pointless, when the work that is in front of me makes me writhe as it goes against the grain of me to serve in the small things, be faithful with little, humble in the unseen. The resistance I feel is within me. There are always more deaths to die.

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.”
— Zechariah 4:6-10

Grace, grace to it. As we have finally seen the sun peeking through the endless cloudy and frigid days, that which has died is smelling once more of sweet resurrection. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit. It is not my endless striving, but my utmost dependence. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice.

Blessed are those. Brick by brick.

Christine Hoover's book, Searching for Springas written about above, has officially been released TODAY! Follow the link to go and get yourself a copy. Her blog post yesterday on why she chose the title hit home for me, and I hope for you as well.