Ministry happens in the weirdest of places and often at inconvenient times.
In the last week I experienced ministry in a variety of settings – many that were unexpected. Often ministry happens when I least expect it. Sometimes it’s a phone call. Sometimes it is in a parking lot. Other times it happens in a store. And still others, while I’m driving. Ministry happens in meetings too.
That’s because God shows up in the most unexpected places. Or at least they are typically unexpected to us. I’m becoming more convinced that where God shows us shouldn’t surprise us.
God shows up in the midst of good things going on. But that’s easy to see God in those things. It’s easy to see God in a sunset, or in someone helping someone else. It’s easy to hear God showing up in the midst of beautiful music, or in worship. It’s easy to hear God showing up when you are holding a newborn baby.
But God doesn’t just show up when everything is nice and neat and going well. Often God shows up in the crap of life. God is right there in the midst of the mess and darkness of life. God shows up and is the light. God shows up in the hospital rooms of people who are dying and learning they have stage four cancer. God shows up when people learn that their bodies are deteriorating and they are not able to do what they could before. God shows up at the funeral where families are fighting. God shows up when relationships are breaking or broken. God shows up where people are struggling with addictions. God shows up at a meal where homeless men and women gather to receive food. God shows up in our parking lots and on our roads. God shows up.
God shows up where we are struggling. It is in those times of struggle that God shows up because if those situations relied on only us, we would give up. We’d let go of hope. Instead God shows up and gives us the gift of faith. It’s the thing that gets us through. It’s the thing that propels us forward. It’s this faith that inconveniences us and makes us so uncomfortable that we have no choice but to respond to this faith that is given to us.
God shows up because we are too weak to handle it on our own. Without God showing up, we would crash and burn. Without God showing up, there would be no hope.
People want to tell us simple lines to make bad stuff go away. It is a natural human thing to do. People don’t like the crap that others go through and so some will say – “God needed another angel,” or “Be grateful for the time you had.” Others will tell us that “God must be punishing you if bad things are happening to you,” or “there is a reason for everything.” We want to rationalize away things and know that everything is within our control. But it isn’t. Sometimes bad things happen to good people for no reason whatsoever. We can’t change that.
But we can know this – that God loves you. God loves each one of God’s creation. God will not abandon you. God walks with you in your journey. And God acknowledges that crappy stuff happens and it is terrible. God walks with us because of the crappy things that happen. We aren’t going to solve the problem of evil in the world. Instead, we are called to walk with people who suffer from evil in the world – the outcast, those who are suffering, those who mourn, those who are alone, homeless, and hungry, the imprisoned, the widow, the sick. We are called to reach those that the world cares very little about. We are called to remind people of their humanity. We are called to be Christ’s light in their darkness. We are called because no one else is going to do it. God calls on us to do it.
God shows up. God shows up in our life. God shows up so that we can go out – to serve and to be served.