I came home last night to find that there was a clip. Of John. On TV. He and a colleague were interviewed about the food security and poverty alleviation project they are running in India. Cue excited squeals as I jumped into Felicity’s room and sat through the premiere viewing with her.
It was wonderful to see the work of the project being recognised and celebrated. There was the sensation of seeing someone familiar become uncannily other as you view them through the lens of a screen. As I posted the clip on Facebook the ‘likes’ and comments immediately shot up as people saw, shared, and felt the same excitement as me.
I felt so proud of him today. So pleased that the hard work which goes on behind the scenes by him and so many others was being given coverage. That people would see some of the heart and the motivation behind all they do to partner with communities in India to find effective and creative ways to alleviate poverty and address malnutrition.
It was easy, on a day like today, to congratulate him, to call him and tell him how well he did, to tell anyone who would listen, to enjoy others’ appreciation.
But for every day like today, there are a hundred others which go by without fanfare. Without anyone noticing or commenting. Nothing to post about on social media, nothing which will make people stop and tell you you’re doing a great job.
I am the first to admit that there have been many days where I have failed to see and celebrate the fruit being borne by him and his team, the careful rows of planted seeds, the painstaking labour of ploughing – row by row, hour by hour, day by day. The days where he writes, gets distracted, writes some more, feels frustrated. I am the first to admit that there are still days, so many days, where I put in the hours alone at my desk studying things I don’t quite understand and feel ungrateful, unsure of what I’m doing here.
Much of his work – much of all our work – is choosing to wake up every day and give ourselves fully to another day, however mundane, however challenging, however joyful, however painful.
One of the phrases which comes back to me again and again in this season is the title of Eugene Peterson’s book: ‘The Long Slow Obedience in the Same Direction’. Isn’t this what we are called to? But how easy it is to resist this holy-beautiful and wondrously ordinary calling. How easy to write off the long-slow days – the long-slow months, maybe years, as a desert wasteland.
Oh Lord, forgive me where my sight is so crude. Where it tunes in only to the shiny and glamorous, things which glitter in the glaring midday sun. As the first disciples said to you, ‘Lord, I want to see’. I long to see the shades of grey and the nothing-to-report days, with all their hidden treasure, all their promise. I long to see what you are growing on the days where there is nothing but endless tilling of soil and nurture its coming with praise, here, now, today.
For we are people of the now and not yet. Of the feasting for you are Immanuel, and the fasting because there is work still to be done for Kingdom come.
On the days where it feels like nothing much is happening, may we keep going in the same direction.
On the days where it seems our obedience goes unnoticed, may your delight warm us from the inside out.
On the days where the path ahead seems long, may we pause and celebrate. For the view beyond the horizon will be breathtaking. But surely… joy will rise from the dust as we respond to the familiar voice which asks: ‘May I walk with you today?’
And finally, on the days where no one is on TV, may we still squeal, gather together, and marvel at the wonder of it all.