Lord, I see the dawn lightening the sky behind the treetops, slowly shifting the dark grey sky a shade lighter. And I feel it, Your coming; I sense you just over the horizon, readying Yourself to stride forth.
“Maranatha,” the voices cry, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
And I long for You too, but this world is not ready for You yet. Any action is twisted into hate and violence; this world has turned cynical and untrusting. The people cry out their lament, great wails echo around the Twitterverse, great moans of anguish fill the newspapers. Oh, this world needs its Saviour.
It would be so easy to stride in, triumphant, tossing hierarchies, scattering armies, overturning the internet forums, emptying hollow churches and football stadiums. But the image of You coming as a warrior, a dominating king, forcing the world to conform or be destroyed, that is an image You have already refused.
Palm Sunday saw You riding a donkey, not a proud warhorse, and the road was strewn with branches and cloaks, not bloody carcasses and broken weapons. Why do we think You will change, O our unchanging God, the same yesterday, today, and forever? Why do we think Your second coming will be so different to Your first? Why do we insist on forging weapons out of our religion, when You have told us to make instruments of peace and provision?
Even Your disciples thought You would be the warrior king, the new ruler dominating their world through power. Their ideas of who and what the Messiah was fell broken around them when You died on the cross, and they were lost.
Slowly, slowly, the dawn creeps in. Suddenly I notice that leaves are visible in what was only a shadow, the grain of the wooden fence clarifies, and it is more light than darkness.
But it wasn’t a sudden bursting forth, it wasn’t the flick of a switch and darkness is banished, it wasn’t a thick curtain ripped violently asunder. This light comes slowly, nibbling at the edges, until the whole world is consumed, further than our eyes can see.
Why don’t we see our God working like that too? Why don’t we see Christ’s second coming in the way His Body works: a small effort here, a weeding project there, a leaning in at the grassroots level, feet on the ground. Not casting our vision from afar, not forcing the world around us to conform to our ways of being.
And as we lean into our small works, we see God more clearly in the faces we meet, the hands we hold, slowly the dawn steals over us too.
So often we think of doing big “Things For Jesus”, as if our small efforts aren’t good enough, aren’t holy enough. We want to go out on a mission to save the world, change the world, convert the heathens, and so our back garden appears so dull and mundane.
But our lives are built in the small things: a smile here, a hand reached out there, a few minutes writing a word of encouragement squeezed in before we dash out the door. These things count, these things are transforming the world. And they are transforming us.
And so the dawn comes, as we see light reflected off another leaf, and then another, until our whole world is alight with Christ and our street lamps can sputter out, unneeded.
“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” — Mother Teresa
What small thing can you do to shift the world towards lightness today? Which face can you look into anew and see God reflected back where before you have only seen darkness? I’d love to hear where you are choosing to focus.