In good weather, I walk my dogs at least 3 miles each day. Maybe they walk me. Needless to say, we get to be known around town, folks wave at us as we meander through the streets, conversations can strike up as cars pass us by.
A few weeks ago, when we passed a friend, she called “Finally!” from her car window. “I finally get to see you out walking the dogs!” We chatted for a few moments, then each went our own way again. For a while now, she’s commented that she has never seen me walking the dogs. It’s a small town, both in size and population, so this does seem unlikely; yet we’ve always missed one another. Ships in the night, as it were. And, she’s not seen us out walking again since.
However, she has never doubted that the dogs and I are going out walking. I’ve told her we’ve been out; she’s seen that neither the dogs nor I are unfit; she has no reason to believe that we’re not out walking – just because she hasn’t (well, hadn’t) seen us doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
I find this to be true with many things. There are all sorts of ministries that happen in the church (being the community of people, not the building) that may not be seen. BUT – they are happening. Pastoral visits are made, flowerbeds are weeded, paperwork is done, prayers are prayed. Altar linens are ironed (God bless the altar guild!), Sunday School curricula are planned (God bless the Sunday School teachers!), choirs rehearse (God bless the music ministries!) – the list goes on. And, for the most part, these are not seen. Yet we all benefit from them.
Naturally, we can’t do all things all the time. There will be some visits that aren’t made, some messages that aren’t returned fast enough, etc. Likewise, we all need to take a break sometime to look after ourselves (my dog walking is done without my mobile!) so that we will have the physical and spiritual well-being to continue our ministries.
Our challenge, then, is not to presume that things are being ignored. Rather, they are either being temporarily shifted in the priority scale (a death in the parish overshadows a non-time sensitive email, for example), or that they are being done, just out of our limited sight. Because that is how God works in and through us – sometimes we see what is happening, sometimes we just see tiny bits. But we never doubt that God is there, being glorified by the many ministries that we all take part in. And we know that no matter what humans see us doing, God sees this good work done in God’s name.