It's the Little Things that Sustain
"Pastor Josh, I wanted you to have this cross. It's been in my family four generations. Many of my family members have worn it while assisting with the Lord's Supper. Take it with you in your ministry in Alton Park," is what I heard on the phone yesterday morning. An aging storyteller Christyna exaggerated the whole four generations thing considering the stamp on the back says 1974, but hey, no biggie. The cross was delivered to me by a sweet encourager of Bridge City Community since day one, June.
June supported me from day one by paying for a newspaper subscription so that I was keeping my finger on the pulse of Chattanooga. Regularly checking in and offering a word of encouragement June called me last week to ask if we could meet up so she could deliver a gift from a very concerned, elderly woman who keeps BCC in her prayers. As we sat in the lobby of the school my children attend yesterday she shared how she used to give Christyna rides to church, the grocery story, and elsewhere while living in an assisted care facility - until she was evicted by doubled rent and forced to move thirty minutes outside of the city. After not hearing from her for a while June received a package in the mail and a phone call.
The package contained a neatly wrapped cross and a short note scribbled on an aged, bifold card. Inside Christyna (admittedly a touch senile) reminded me of her prayer for our ministry and how she viewed me as a modern day apostle. Definitely far too generous a title for me but sincere nonetheless. As I read the note I held back tears because church planting is a loneley adventure. The work of an urban mission is rought with speedbumps, hurdles, and failure. Often it's difficult to discern victory from defeat and most days anxiety and isolation are forcibly repressed in order to avoid quitting altogether. In the face of mighty challenges such as these it's the little things that sustain.
A trinket cross from 1974 doesn't seem like much but that small token from Christyna meant the world to me. It is a tangible reminder of the burden Christ bore for me so that my burdens wouldn't be too heavy - the yoke of isolation, anxiety, uncertainy, and loneliness. The shaky handwritten note was a stretch in its designation of apostleship but in that small 3"x5" notecard I was covered by the prayers of a sister in Christ. The brief phone call to thank a eighty-something year old, half-senile storyteller for her generous donation to our urban mission was a little thing of beauty. The Enemy prowls around seeking out who he may devour and most times this is not an aggressive, noisy, discernable hunt - usually it is a quiet stalk that seeks to silently choke out the life-giving promises of God.
Thank you Christyna. Thank you June. Thank you for a word of encouragement, a note, a cross, and a phone call. Thank you for reminding me that it's not the mighty miracles but the little things that sustain.