It was early morning and the darkness still engulfed the room like it was midnight instead of time to start stirring. I sat at the edge of my bed like I do each morning, groggy and with eyes still closed. My hands atop my lap turn so that my palms are facing upward as an offering, a picture of their emptiness reflecting my very emptiness.
I have nothing to bring. No frankincense or myrrh. No fish or loaves. This morning I don’t have a boat to hop out of or faith enough to keep my eyes on Him to walk across the water. My hands, like every other morning, are empty.
But I offer Him my emptiness. I have these hands that move and work, please use them?
I have a mouth that can speak and a thinking active mind that can string together words and sentences in a coherent fashion. Please, make them yours?
The mornings mantras are strength and courage. Patience. Always patience. Compassion. Love.
I know that I’m capable of none of these on my own. What I do know I’m capable of is worry and snappiness. A general feeling of selfishness and lack of control. I’m capable of allowing my mind to spiral down the middle of these twisting tornadoes of thoughts and what if’s and I can come up with a million hypotheticals to my day, none of which will happen. I know that plowing through the day on my own means moments of anger and utter frustration. It means I won’t understand why there are always crumbs on the floor and the very sight of them can break me.
And so I start here. Asking for all the things that I know I don’t have. Boldly relying on a yes for all the things I can’t be.
But somewhere in my mind it gets all twisted up. As I ask for strength I’m thinking like, superhuman. As I ask for courage I dream of just walking up to a stranger and proclaiming Christ and them falling to their knees right then and there. As I picture patience there is a young girl in my mind who cuts herself and I sit beside her stroking her hair. As I speak out loud about using my hands I see food being offered to the homeless and me walking through their camp. I see babies who’s names I don’t know in rooms lined with cribs crying from malnutrition and I think, yes. Use me!
But then I get out of bed and I stumble to the shower and I go through the motions of rousing the children from slumber. I go about my very mundane day, the normal morning actions of stirring the porridge on the stove and reheating my lukewarm cup of coffee.
As the day progresses and children come home I hear of a scary incident that happened that day and we stop immediately and pray for the child involved. I speak normal words that any mom would use to comfort my child who was witness to the trauma and we try to stop the images from flashing in his head like a bad vine on repeat.
I boil the noodles on the stove and cut up the bread and work through a teenagers feelings of lonely, even when he’s surrounded by people, and the dynamics of relationships and choices and life stuff that feels huge when hormones are wonky and at serious play in your world. My lips form sentences of understanding and challenge and we make word pictures to describe feelings and use metaphors to make sense of it all.
I tuck large boys into bed because they still ask to be and there is emotion because days are tiring and the middle school social scene is gruelling and legs are aching from joints that aren’t right and the fatigue of the day. So I press my palms deep into the tissue on the back of his legs and he asks for just a bit harder and to the right and then he groans because they hurt so much and my hands kneading his muscles offer a tiny moment of relief.
And suddenly I see it. I see what I hadn’t seen before.
I see prayer answered right here in this house. I hear my words spoken out loud that very morning and I see them come together in a very different way then the grand feature film version my mind played out.
I see that there was strength to walk through this very normal day and courage to stop right there in front of the school and pray with my boy for his classmate. I see compassion in his eyes and it flows to my heart and we ask that God be near the entire family and be peace to and for them. I see me serving my people good things to fill their bellies and I stir as an act of worship instead of grumbling about cooking yet again. I see that my words had impact on my very own teen and right here in this home there are emotional needs that are being met. I see my hands pressing in to the muscle on my sons legs and I see that my hands are being used to minister to him right at this very moment.
It may not be the stuff that best sellers are written about. It’s certainly never going to make it to the big screen. But there is work and life and ministry to be done right here in our homes. There are words to be spoken right here and hands to be used right here and life to be given and joy to be shared within our own walls. Don’t dismiss it as everyday stuff. Don’t gloss over it or look outside of it for something shinier and more worthy. This is the good stuff. The real stuff. The important and regular and extraordinary using of our gifts.
We can grumble through meal prep or serve it with joy. We can look to heal all the hurts of others around us while yelling at our own to clean their rooms. We can rush out of our homes to serve everyone else and forget so quickly that we’ve been given people to serve right here amongst us each day.
Let’s use our words and our hands and our hearts to be what we can to them and remember this IS the good stuff. Quiet and humble and dare I say some of the most beautiful work you’ll ever accomplish in your life. My hands were used to offer relief to my very own hurting boy and it opened my eyes to see that this is the work they’ve been given to do just now. May I use my time well and see that each day I do have opportunity to use my hands to serve. I just don’t always see it.
So pray for the big stuff and let Him use you in the seemingly small until you see just how big and beautiful it really is.