Some days, being available is enough.
In this season of investing in language and trying to be intentional about our time and relationships, ministry looks different. The 'doer' in me admittedly oscillates between feeling 'accomplished' and questioning what I am doing when my schedule isn't full. In these moments I find myself again and again confessing the idol of the 'checklist', feeling the deep roots or performance that need to be weeded out of me but gladly receiving the grace and comfort of God's assurance that there is nothing I can do to prove myself, and that we are where we should be.
I cannot tell you the countless times I have loaded up my schedule, only to feel overwhelmed but then to have someone cancel on me. In those moments, I think, "thank you God, for the grace of that cancellation, but also the gentle nudge of remembering to take time and be still'. I am in fact writing this because of one such occurrence! It is a lesson I have to be taught again and again. But then there are other days where we only have a loose schedule, and since we are flexible more so now than ever, we can be available for God's work in the small and hidden parts of people's lives.
Yesterday was one such day.
It's funny. Sometimes on the seemingly busiest of days, God beckons. Yesterday was supposed to be THE DAY. Thus far, December had been working toward THIS DAY. The day we take our 138 letters and 20 packages to the 'pošta' and get them weighed, stamped and sent out. It's the biggest mailing we do a year, the one we get to bless our supporters and friends with, the one we are eager, yet stressed to do every time. Designing, writing, printing, folding, buying, addressing and stuffing our envelopes is actually quite a joy for me. I love thinking about how each person will receive our letters sent from the middle of Europe. I hope and pray our newsletters and goodies are received with joy and that they notice how Anika has grown, or read our newsletter to the end! I love folding letters and trying to get the fold as perfectly into thirds as possible, and placing everything in the envelope so that when it is pulled out, it is facing the right way. Strange, I know!
So we had stayed up late, late trying to stuff these envelopes. Our newsletters had arrived the previous day and we try to get everything out in 24 hours because we are cutting it close for timing. So I was tired, Anika was bouncing off the walls and I had to get her to 'školka'. And right before I hopped in the shower, my phone dinged.
Our new friends needed help to get to the hospital for a sprained foot and they didn't have a car nor did they speak Czech...and they were asking us to translate! You must understand, a hospital visit to the ER here can take up the whole day here, walking from department to department. I remember distinctly my first reaction to the text....grumble, grumble, grumble. But after talking to a friend about which hospital to go to, I felt a rebuke in my heart - we have had people do the same for us, and we have people who would drop their lives for us here too. The least we can do is extend the kindness that has been extended to us. So, after I got clean, my renewed heart saw this opportunity as a challenge. Let's test out this language acquisition and see how it goes in a completely different situation!
Luckily, it was Adam's last day at school and there was foreseeable time to be able to stuff more envelopes and get them to the post office by the end of the day. So off we went, a little foray into uncharted territory. I'm glad to say that we were able to navigate ourselves around pretty well. I was thankful for friends who had gone through this at the Children's hospital before and were at least able to tell us which department to go to (in case you were wondering, you go to 'surgery' for things related to bones!)
It was God's provision that Adam had the day off, so we divided and conquered. I left the boys in the x-ray department and went to stuff more letters. It was a well timed day - when I finished stuffing, I was able to grab the boys - one now outfitted with a pair of crutches - and take them home and then I was on my merry way to visit a friend with my letters and packages in hand.
I had no idea when I arrived that it had not been such a good day for my friend. She was going through a health issue that affects your body and your heart and I was able to be a small support to her. She was gracious to help me get the mail out, and we hung out till a lot later than I had planned because her husband was working late and I think it was better that she was not alone for too long.
But on my drive home I reflected on the day. It was not at all how we had planned. A hospital visit, a long stay with a hurting friend as well as being able to get our mail out on the day we had hoped! Yet I was thankful that in His grace, God would allow us to minister to our friends in need. We were not planning on it, nor did we know that these things would arise, but we were (after confessing my initial grumbling) available. God's timing allowed for us to be there for situations that we didn't even know about.
There is a sense of God's hand moving over the waters of this city. A sense that His presence is and will be made known. I fell like our Czech Christian friends are very good at this notion of being available. I can also feel the American cultural pull toward scheduling everything shift while we are here. Perhaps we need to get more used to just being available for the Holy Spirit to use us, to be more sensitive to His voice, for the small ways that God can use to make Himself known. Perhaps it is through these small purposes that God's big purposes will come to fruition.