Growing vegetables is slow and steady work. Hours are spent and calories are burned for what oftentimes seems fruitless (er, veggie-less?). While the work is at its highest in the spring, it certainly doesn’t start there. Investments must be made even now that will affect next season. Today, the peel of my daughter’s banana will go to the compost pile where it will live for nearly a year before being tilled into next year’s garden. The leaves I rake in the fall will be gathered for next season’s mulch.
Once the actual planting begins, there are weeks that go by where growth is incremental. During that time, however, there are weeds to pull and insects to battle. If I’m not diligent to pull weeds, they will quickly get out of control. Considerable time and effort is required with no immediate results, which clashes with my impatient heart that seeks instant gratification. In short, gardening involves a lot of ordinary, mundane tasks the must be completed over and over.
I’ve come to realize that one of the most underappreciated aspects of the Christian life is ordinary faithfulness. Striving for excellence in the small, mundane tasks that God has given today often seems boring and unsatisfying. I want to be like the men and women I read about in biographies who conquered enemies and gave their lives for something they believed in. That sounds exciting, but today I have to take my kid to baseball practice then help minimize the massive pile of dishes that are brought about by a family of seven. Instead of standing before governors and kings to give a defense for my beliefs, today I’ll stand before my three-year-old in an attempt to convince him he has to go to bed just like every other night. That doesn’t have the same appeal nor seem like interesting biographical material.
I realize this angst I often feel isn’t something unique. Many, it seems, in the church today struggle to believe that God has called them to a life that seems so mundane. Whether it be an ordinary pastor called to an average church, a salesperson just trying to get their quarterly numbers up, or a stay-at-home mom who can’t understand why she got a master’s degree to change diapers, we all can feel this angst.
In Mark 9, Jesus teaches his disciples, “For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward” (v.41). Giving someone a cup of water seems so small and insignificant. With all the unbelief and evil that we see around us, how can something so frivolous make any kind of real impact? I’m sure the person who provides the water doesn’t feel like they are doing anything of significance. However, Jesus teaches that even the small act of kindness is meaningful and will not be forgotten by our heavenly Father.
Let us be faithful in the small things. Sure, serving in the nursery, providing food for a family, or a simple phone call of encouragement doesn’t sound as “exciting” as conquering a kingdom, but perhaps what the church needs most is ordinary people willing to pull weeds. Our Lord cares about the smallest task, and he said he will not forget even when we provide a glass of cold water.