Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Ministry Beneath My Window

read this week one of my very favorite picture books to my youngest daughter.  I understand my "very favorite picture books" list quite long.  But this one is near the top.  It is a wonderful little story about Emily Dickinson who, besides being a gifted poet, was also a very fascinating woman.

It was said that she rarely left her house and, eventually, never left at all.  She was ill at times and was quite shy around people.  She took the term "introvert" to a whole new level.

But still she showered the world with beauty.  Well over a thousand pages of beauty, written and preserved for the world.  Right there.  In that house she never left, where it was said she lowered baskets of gingerbread down to neighboring children, she lowered words to the world of which she was so afraid.

So I ask a few questions.  To myself and to mothers everywhere.  

What exactly are we thinking when we begin to assume we have nothing to offer the world when a sickly recluse moved inward to shower the same with beauty? 

Who says there is no ministry right here?  In this house? In this mess of us?  Does anyone else doubt the breadth of their influence when the lessons and the meals and the mess envelop all of our days?

And perhaps it's just me.  Maybe I'm the only one who lies awake at night or walks around aimlessly pondering the depth of the ministry that lies before me.  Have you ever wondered if this eternal work is, in fact, as temporal as it sometimes seems?

It is so easy to forget our family IS our ministry.  That right here, without ever leaving, we can make our mark on this world, lowering baskets of blessings to our families, to our neighbors, to those whom God so strategically places just under our windowsill.

I have a feeling I may have underestimated the power of scribbled words on paper and a freshly baked batch of gingerbread cookies.  I think I definitely have forgotten that God is glorified when I make my kids' favorite soup.  I know I doubt the eternal significance of perfectly removed coffee stains and laundered clothing.  

A dear friend emailed me last week to remind me that this day, every day, is a gift.  Only on this particular day are we able to glorify God in the special way designed for the happenings of now.  Today we can influence our tiny corner of the world for His glory.  Today is a gift, lowered to us from the very Throne of God.  

Will we continue to look outward, for the elusive ministry that lies just out of our reach?  Or perhaps we can remember Emily.  The dreamer who never ventured out beyond her own front yard, but steeped in the beauty thereof. Who took that beauty, spun it into words and gingerbread, and lowered it down to us and our children. 

"Forever is composed of nows."

-Emily Dickinson


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