Just show up

My friend Rachel started a small book group at a local coffee shop. We met for the first time to talk about Christmas books. It was a random choice and I truly believed it would be just her and me, chatting at the coffee shop, but then something wonderful happened…

People showed up.

I went home excited and came back the next month with my book in tow, But I steeled myself, again ready for a chat session between just her and I. I mean, once was nice, but surely no one would show up a second time??? That would be crazy talk, right?

Then it happened, again. People showed up.

It sounds like such a small thing. Showing up. In this giant universe, me showing up is relatively insignificant, don’t you think? But it isn’t it does matter.

I’m not saying you need to fill your calendars with social engagements and wear yourself down trying to show up for everything and anything. I’ve walked that road. It’s not fun and it’s definitely not doable for long.

In fact, last night, I was the person who didn’t show up. I skipped book group. I needed a moment. My husband needed a moment. My family needed a moment. And that’s ok.

But, I want you to know that showing up really does matter.

I have rarely felt so encouraged as when I left those book groups. It’s that satisfying sense of knowing that someone else thought something mattered as much as you did. Someone valued time with you, with the community that gathered, and the thoughts that were shared. Time has value and when we give it to people, we say,

You matter. You are valued.

Let’s take this conversation to church. Showing up.

Tiny, seemingly insignificant, but the most powerful thing you can do in the Body of Christ.

Show up.

Amazing things happen in the act of showing up.

  • You ignite and grow relationships. You are fed, you are loved, you leave ready to love on others.
  • You say to the person sitting next to you in the pew -“Jesus is worth my time. You, my friend, are worth my time.” Who else in their life is saying that to them? Maybe no one. Don’t ever take that for granted.
  • You encourage your pastor in the very best way. Words of affirmation are nice, gift cards and thank you notes are wonderful, but if you really, really want to encourage your pastor, be there to hear the Word. It tells him that he did not prepare in vain. It shows him that God is at work. It reminds Him that the Word does not return empty and God called him to this work for a real reason and purpose- namely, you.
  • In real relationship, we get life together. Need help with your moving van? Call on the body of Christ! Is someone in your family struggling with mental illness? Call on the body of Christ! Lost your job? Call on the body of Christ! Cancer, weddings, graduations. Life torn to shreds and life flourishing. This is real life together. You do not know what you are missing until you experience it. No one should every go through any of it alone. God created us for more. He created us for one another.

    God has called you to your own arena of showing up. Showing up for your kids, showing up for your spouse, showing up for your neighbors, showing up for your church, showing up in the hard, and showing up in the magnificent.

But just do it, in His grace. Just show up.

Making Advent a place of rest…

I have a little secret. I love winter. While people all around me are grumbling about the cold and the snow and the winds, I smile and nod, but deep down I know the truth- what would life we like without winter?
I love to look out the window and watch the snow come down. I like to add an extra pair of socks and trudge around my yard in the wee hours of morning with my husband and a pair of cross-country skis. I like to sit in my car while it defrosts all the snow and ice, because I’m from St. Louis and even after 10 years in Northern Ohio, I still don’t own a snow scrapper. I like to wrap my hands around a warm mug. But most of all what I love about winter is the rest of it all.
See, I love excitement. I love to go and do and I love to take life at a breakneck. Ministry is even like this for me, and honestly, I think ministry by its nature feels like this for most of us. It doesn’t stop. There is always more to be done, people to care for, programs to plan for, people who need to know the truth of Jesus. And who will tell them?
And we want it to be exciting; we want it to be exuberant and happening. But every day can’t be spring. Every day can’t be new stuff and greater things to come. Every day can’t be fall, with its harvest of new souls and it’s bounty of production. Every day can’t be summer. Every day can’t be VBS and summer camp and youth bonfires. But when nothing is “happening” in ministry we feel the big f’s come on – failure, frustration, and friction. We end up much like Narnia with a ministry that feels like “always winter, and never Christmas.” We feel burnt and spent, but rest alludes us.
So, where is God in our winter? In Matthew 11:28-29, we hear the much loved passage, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.God in heaven, maker of the stars, knows I need rest for my soul…but do I know it? Do you know it? Does your husband know it?
How can we encourage rest for ourselves, and our husbands? We see them scurry to and fro, we see them struggle and work hard. There are evening meetings to be attended and children to put to bed, members who are ill, and homeless who need a warm coat. There are deaths and baptisms, and divorces and Children’s Christmas Programs. Where is the rest in this season that God has given us?
Note that Jesus invites us into rest, but it is a learned process.  “Take my yoke…and learn from me.” Rest is a practice developed. Create rest times in your home schedule. Make the meal table a place of rest and date night a welcome invitation to rest. Block a day out on your calendar for nothingness to happen. 
Rest yourself. When the snow comes down, refuse to shovel the driveway for 2 extra hours, to hold your mug of coffee in your hand and praise the Creator for His wonder instead.  

What if the phone rings, what if life happens? I don’t know. But you do. God whispers in our hearts with His Spirit when we need some rest. He tells us in our hearts and in our marriages. He offers usrest-oration in these moments, put into practice. Certainly His cross gives us all the rest we need, but in these verses, Jesus shows us that, like He always does, He offers us more. He offers us His cross, and His rest, daily.

I pray for you in this winter season, that you find His rest again… and in it, ministry restoration, family restoration, and Newness of Life for all the seasons to come.