A couple snapshots from church yesterday:
-It was our annual meeting and a very heated discussion was going on. Something to do with how many people are on the church council, whether we are mistreating people by electing them over and over again, etc. One of those times when everyone has gotten very serious. In the middle of it all, Aaron's daughter Cassidy started drawing a picture on the white board. She didn't know Aaron was watching her, but in the middle of all this debating, he was distracted completely from the task at hand. Just looking at his daughter's art with a smile. Sometimes, it doesn't seem like other people are recognizing our work, but often I think God is watching it, secretly and silently from behind us so as not to distract us, but with a huge grin on His face.
-After the meeting, we came out to the office to discover that the pastor's son had been doing some "art" of his own. That is to say, there were now permanent marker "signatures" all over the chairs, desks and table. Once most of the church members had left, the pastor sat his son down, showed him the damage, and let him know why it was damage. Yuki began wailing in the middle of this, but his father continued to patiently and persistently tell him what he had done. After that, the rest of their family went back upstairs (home) and Yuki and dad remained, clean up tools in hand. Yuki is three years old, so I know he wasn't actually helping so much. But the two went around side by side until all the marker was erased.
It's interesting to me that other people are often the first ones to confirm the fears in our head that we are not doing any good, or to confirm that our greatest efforts are actually increasing the mess instead of decreasing it. There is this truth that we as Christians have to come face to face with at some point: God does not need us.
Some of us stop there. Some refuse to believe it and stake their entire identity on the fact that they are needed by God...their ministry looks frantic, and they have a lot to lose if something goes wrong. Others hear they are not needed and drop out of the game altogether...if God doesn't need them, what's the point? Still others understand but not fully...they feel a contradiction between the truth that God doesn't need them and the truth that God calls them to obedience. Fear of God and failing keeps them "in line", but they haven't understood the whole picture.
The truth is that God wants us with him. I believe we can make him smile. The Bible tells us he rejoices over us, and the Hebrew for that word actually means "spins around in circles". I love to think about God getting all "improper" and spinning around in circles of joy over the little actions, the small prayers, the heroic sacrifices of a moment that are made in his name. He knows we make messes sometimes, but isn't that what being a kid is? I remember another time when one of Aaron's daughters was upset and she cried to him, "But you're the dad, and that means you can fix it!" Human dads can't fix everything. But our heavenly Dad really can and does bring all things around for good. Often by handing us the cleaning supplies and cheerfully saying, "Let's get to work. I've got just the thing for this stain."