February 17, 2014

Small Things with Great Love

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

Collin and I have been reading the book Finding Calcutta by Mary Poplin, who spent an extended time with Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity in India. While it is argued whether or not Mother Theresa was the originator of the above quote, it is the perfect summary of the work and service that she and the Sisters devoted their lives to.

“Answer the door whenever the doorbell rings.”

I know it is a very small thing, but it is the way I have been trying to show “great love” this past week. It is not just about answering the door, it is about making myself available to others whenever the Lord asks me to be. I struggle with this. I am selfish with my time. I protect it, sometimes hoard it from others. I know that I have my limits; I cannot be everything to everyone. But these days I have this weird sense that it’s God standing out there knocking, wondering if I’m available to share some “great love” today. Today and every day. And this last week we experienced how small things really do lead to great love.

“Please, accompany me.”

The doorbell had rung at 9 p.m. that evening. Our friend Victor was sitting across the table, tears running down his face. His mother had passed away that morning, and he was heartbroken. “Please, accompany me. Please come to the cemetery. It would mean so much. You are not just my friends, you are my family.” Although we had never even met his mom, we knew she had been sick and that his family had been taking care of her for a long time. The next day we crossed the cemetery, an area of land that from afar looks like a tiny city, filled with every size, shape, and color grave imaginable. We walked past the beautifully carved and sculpted burial sites to the back of the cemetery where many caskets are only covered in a mound of dirt. We watched from a distance as Victor’s cousin performed a short service, reading Scripture and singing. The family wept. Tears. Pain.

“Answer the door whenever the doorbell rings.”

It was 10 a.m. this time. Victor was sitting across from me, explaining that their family was still Q1,500 (about $185) short of paying for the Q4,500 (about $560) funeral. The man at the funeral service had generously let the family have the casket without paying the entire bill, but now Victor only had a few days to pay off the debt with no resources left. “Please. This is the last favor I will ever ask.” More tears. “I feel so bad asking you for so much! I work every day, but right now there is no business. I ask for loans from so many, and can never pay them back. You have done so much for me, and I know that I can never pay you back. I just pray that God will multiply His blessings upon you.”

“Please, help me.”

I have talked about this before, how sometimes “helping” is complicated. At times we wonder if covering an entire debt or just giving money helps, or if it creates more problems. I won’t go into all the details here, but the situation did get quite complicated for us. However, we couldn't fight the fact that for some reason, we felt very convicted. Politics aside, we knew we were being called to give. We were able to cover almost half with the last of the money that had been donated to us from friends and family for these types of situations. After so much debate in our minds, I have never felt so much peace in my heart with our decision to give.

“Please, accompany me.”

Yesterday at church we met a man from Lansing, Michigan.  “Please accompany me to brunch! I know a great place that I would love to take you to! I’ll pay.” (How did he know that our two favorite things are food and free food?!) That morning he had prayed for God to show him someone he could take out for breakfast after church. God chose us. We shared wonderful conversation, a fantastic meal. (Guatemalans do breakfast very well.)

“I am a pencil in God’s hand.”

I do not share this to gloat, to tell the world the "good” we have done. 

I share this because this past week has been filled with many small things. So often we think we are supposed to change the entire world, do big things and become famous for it, accomplish something that creates astounding statistics. But sometimes we need to stop and focus on changing one person’s world, on doing small things that maybe nobody notices, on accomplishing something that might only seem like a “drop in the bucket.”

I share this because as we walked home from our wonderful, delicious, free brunch yesterday, we talked about how the meal felt like another sign from our generous Father. We didn't view breakfast as a reward for our small actions this past week, but it was most definitely a sign telling us to never be afraid to give, to never hold back from doing these “small things with great love” because we are constantly being shown the same favor. Others are continuously showing us great love. It was a reminder that we are always called to “pay it forward.” We are always provided for, shown generosity to, so we can always show generosity towards others.

In her book, Mary Poplin writes, “Mother Theresa often referred to herself as a ‘pencil in God’s hand.’ She believed that everything she was able to do was done by God’s power working through her…Their confidence that God works through them grants them power, grace, and humility. For them, each task must be done with love – small things done with great love.”

I want to be that pencil. I want to focus on the little things each day, to notice the one person in front of me who needs to be written a message of grace and extra care. I want to share the great love with others that I have been shown over and over, again and again in my own life.

Grace and Peace,