My house is (blissfully) quiet now. I sit at my clean wooden table. My stomach is comfortably satisfied. My kids are actually adjusting remarkably well to school life—something I couldn’t have anticipated after five years homeschooling them in Africa. (Adjusting so well, in fact, that after their dental appointments last week, the younger two begged me to return to the last hour of school. Um…okay!) My new job as a freelance writer—after a few weeks of what might be called panic—is actually a delight. And my husband is happy, which is just a good gift all around. We are all healing mpola mpola (slowly by slowly).
This is to say: I have a lot I am thankful for. Many of you have asked about our transition, probably because my heart has seeped out a bit into cyberspace. I would not be telling the truth to say something other than—wow. This has all gone much more smoothly than I thought possible. (Thank you, friends, for praying. He hears.)
I noticed in myself this weekend—I guess you could call it a longing. As a friend pointed out, I’ve lost a couple of my jobs in the last year. And I think the slight gap I feel, where the wind whistles through, could be called purpose. Occasionally I see flashes of it, like light on water. But a little part of me is still puzzled. It whispers, see–when I’m not flying around with school lunches and permission slips and work deadlines. Why am I here? (And maybe, Why am I not there?)
Maybe that’s why my mind drifted to two of my most favorite, and the most spectacular, stories this week. I think of a boy handing a carpenter-turned-rabbi his lunch, some bread and some (hopefully cooked?) fish. I think of his mother kneading the dough that morning or the day before with floury hands on stone, the yeasty bubbles at last being shoveled into an oven. I think she didn’t know what she was making with her daily work. She had no idea it would feed more than 5,000 people at the hand of the Son of God. That people would be talking about her bread in 2017.
I think, too, of a prophet and his grizzled beard, compiling the ingredients for a fire on a mountain while everyone watches. Everyday ingredients: Tinder, kindling, logs—plus the inexplicable 12 barrels of water weirdly poured over the top. (Impossible, everyone was probably saying. He’s making it impossible.)
But this is what I know. Sometimes we’re just handing over our food, or stacking wood—and waiting for God to show up and make something stunning and beautiful.
Maybe you’re there, staying at home with a disabled child, or sticking around with a spouse who doesn’t believe, or teaching Sunday School to kids who wipe their nose on your arm. Yet sometimes what we see as a handicap or a limitation or the ordinary is precisely what’s been orchestrated for whisking our breath away.
Or, as a friend put it to me recently: I’m playing chopsticks—and then I look up, and around me, God’s playing a symphony.
So yes, I’m in a bit of waiting right now, a bit of the mundane, faithful, and decidedly non-heroic: “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). I have a feeling there are quiet radicals everywhere, living fully and faithfully and just trusting God always shows up.
And I may be forming just another loaf of bread, another fire. Or maybe I’m right where He wants me, playing chopsticks.