The unforced rhythms of grace
It’s the little things.
One thing that can make Monday morning a little easier is to realize we do our best work when we concentrate on the little things – the good word, the small adjustment, the attention to detail that complements the big picture. Over the last couple of weeks, I have preached on the parables of Jesus from Matthew 12 and 13. There is such richness there.
One of the main things I am taking away from the text is the smallness, the relative insignificance of the change agent that Jesus describes. That change agent is the seed sown by the farmer in these parables. It’s also the tiny mustard seed that grows into a large plant (on in the Message – the pine nut that grows into a tall pine tree, something very common here in eastern North Carolina) and the tiny spores of yeast that are given nutrition and structure with flour, sugar and water to power incredible, dramatic growth.
For me, the practical application of theses parables boils down to one question: What are the small things we can do that make people ask questions to which the only answer is Jesus? Not the dramatic things, not the loud and brash things that draw attention to me but the small and powerful things that can only be motivated by the One who is the Answer.
Sometimes, all that means is simply showing up. Or the bowed head over a fast food meal. Or the quiet word that refocuses a raucous conversation. Small actions take as much courage and prayerful thought as big, drastic actions. Yet, they have more potential to point toward the Holy Love that motivates them. Practice of spiritual disciplines in our lives: prayer, fasting, study, silence, solitude, celebration, fellowship, holy conversation, worship – are the starting places for these small actions. They ARE the actions for which the only answer is Jesus. When we live our lives in the rhythms of Holy Love, we are the seed that is planted by the Master Gardener.
When we pay attention to the small things in us, around us and for us to do, Holy Love spreads its roots in the world, people begin to ask questions and the answer is the one we are most able to give: life following Jesus in the unforced rhythms of grace.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message)