...This Thing In Front Of Me

Shannan Martin confesses in her book, “The Ministry of Ordinary Places,” that she lived in dread that God might “call” her into “the ministry.” When she learned that her sister had shared God’s call in her life to become a missionary, Shannan felt like she was “off the hook.” Or, in her words, “Bullet Dodged!” Relieved, she picked up her life with new gusto and found a measure of peace that “ministry” was for others and an ordinary life was for her. To her surprise, she began to realize that her “ordinary life” was her “ministry,” her “calling!”
In her own words, as she daily “maneuvered my babies into sleep schedules, taught them to pray, and took them to the library” it dawned on her that this was her present “calling,” her “ministry.” She found that her “calling” was to live out her faith in what she calls the “ordinary.” The routines of life, the habitus of one’s life, the stuff of today, “this thing in front of me.”
I rather like that. It’s so easy for us to see “ministry” as some sort of “special” calling, a holy kind of thing, and then fail to see the “holy” as it appears in “this thing in front of me.” Isn’t that an interesting phrase? Life is mostly about what is right in front of us. Too often I am thinking about tomorrow or the day after with its responsibilities and fail to see “this thing in front of me.”
Remember the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10:30-37) Jesus never said these two men were bad people. Perhaps they were on their way to important meetings or to fulfill some important responsibility. Maybe they were expected someplace at a specific time. Their failure was to see “this thing in front of me” as a moment of ministry. An important opportunity to extend God’s love to someone in need.
It’s so easy to look beyond “this thing in front of me” as I am planning the next great thing in “ministry.” Life is mainly lived in the ordinary. The ordinary is filled with opportunities to serve others and in doing so to serve our Lord. Jesus spent His life focusing on “this thing in front of me.” He moved easily from one situation to another always fully present with “this thing in front of me.” Whether is was a person of status like Jairus, an official of the synagogue or an outcast like the demoniac, living in the tombs in the country of the Gerasenes, Jesus gave His full attention to what was before Him.
It is true that God does call some for special ministry assignments in His Kingdom, but it is also true that He calls every believer to minister in her or his particular circle of influence. The question is this, “What is ‘this thing in front of me, in front of you?’”
“This thing in front of me” is God’s special assignment for me. In Luke 16:10, Jesus said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much . . . .” We might think of it this way, “The one who is faithful with “this thing in front of me” is faithful in much.”
Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see “this thing in front of me” as an opportunity to serve. Show me how to be faith in the very small and ordinary things so when the time comes, I will be faithful in the larger things. Amen
On the journey . . .

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