When God is working a new thing in our lives they can seem so fragile. We catch the tiniest glimpse of where God is leading us, or we have a hazy vision. Perhaps we feel a deep longing for something but cannot fathom how it will actually come about. Our human scope of imagination limits our ability to fathom what the Divine might actually be up to in our lives and in the world.
Jesus actually uses a story to describe this. He says that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It starts out as the very tiniest of seeds. Isn’t this so often the case? I can think of so many times in my life when I caught a hint of God working something new – so faint that I wasn’t even sure if it was real.
When I first experienced my call to be a pastor it started as the tiniest whisper. I was asked to read Scripture on Easter Sunday and I had a flutter inside that said – this is the beginning of something more. I couldn’t even have named or described it to myself or anyone else. It was months before I heard the whisper again, this time a little louder and much clearer. You are called to be a pastor.
The hurdles that I needed to overcome in answering that call were numerous and felt insurmountable. I couldn’t even begin to conceive of how it might happen. It was a mustard seed and it felt tiny, difficult to grasp, unable to grow into anything more.
Now, all these years later, I see how that tiny fragile seed was planted and God has nurtured and worked the soil until now, the tree has grown and it is sturdy. I can’t imagine my life as anything other than a pastor.
Trusting in God to do new things in and through us requires us to both learn to listen to God and to trust in the work God is doing, no matter how small it begins.
When I served at Rochester United Methodist Church some people had a dream of a clothing bank to serve the community. There was no space for the clothing bank, no donations, and very little money. But there was a call from God and the trust to make it happen.
The clothing bank started with two women, a donated, ugly, run down single-wide, and faith. The story goes that the single-wide almost cost the lay leader of the church his marriage because his wife was so horrified by such a hideous contraption being placed on church grounds. But a few cots of paint later, some clothing donations from the church, and lots of prayers and the clothing bank opened to the serve the community.
That was over ten years ago. Now the clothing bank is housed in three buildings, gives away over 30,000 items per year and served thousands of people. It has become a place to receive clothes, prayers, comfort, friendship, and hope.
What began as the tiniest of mustard seeds grew into a tree that provides gifts for many.
This is often how God works in our lives. A tiny whisper. A glimpse of hope. A murmur of something more. God is doing something new. Can you perceive it?