Today was difficult to get through and to be quite honest, I almost didn’t try to make it. I was very close to just calling my boss and letting him know that I was not going to be able to make it in to the office today. I could have, but that would have been the wrong answer for me. I have already missed several weeks from work and I know that even though I was far from 100% today, that I needed to make it. Two main things made me go into work today. First, I had promised a friend that we would meet and study the Psalms today and pray together. Second, I intellectually know that every time I stay in my safe zone at home that I am in fact reinforcing the opposite that I want to occur in my life. So, I went out of the house and, in fact, made it through the day. Though I really did feel quite “off” today, I was able to accomplish what I needed to.
Funny thing is that when I got home I decided that I was just not ready to be in the house with the family yet. I know that they can tell when they need to keep their distance and I know when I am feeling agitated. So tonight, when I arrived home and was feeling this way, I decided that I needed to sweep the street clean of the aftermath of our long winter – gravel. I swept from our mailbox all the way to our side street. I had to move our vehicles, dodge some traffic, and shovel quite a bit of the aggregate off the road but it now looks freshly swept and I ended up gaining a good bit of weed cover in my front yard. By the time I was finished I realized that I was feeling better and that I was ready to be around family again. It reminded me of another time I that I swept up and took great satisfaction in the task. Iraq is known for its amazing sandstorms, Haboob’s, and when I was assigned to 25th ID/3DBE’s Bronco Chapel (we were on an extended downtime from Transition team rounds) we had one of the most epic sandstorms I can recall. After 2 days it finally died down and we were able to finally see the results to our office and chapel. There was a thick layer of sand covering everything. I ended up helping my immediate supervisor move all the furniture, electrical equipment, instruments – everything – out of the chapel and began to sweep up the mess. It took hours, but I remember just being so happy to do that work and I loved how clean the place looked and felt afterward. You see, I’m one of those Chaplain Assistant’s who really believes that a chapel is not just a place we do church but is in fact the place where we go to worship and cry out to God. I also understand that it is a testament to His mercy and grace that we are even allowed to have life in our body, and that each moment that we are allowed to continue is just more evidence of His matchless compassion for us. I know…with all the struggles that I have been having, that seems a little confident. But, my struggles are not with HIM. My belief in Him has never wavered and actually has never been stronger. My struggles are something internal to me, and in my practice and expression with others. I know, it’s confusing to me too.
Regardless, I have always held a high view on the place and manner of worship. So for me, it was an act of duty and service that brought much enjoyment to clean and prepare that chapel for use again. And that was not the only time. In Jordan and Afghanistan I was just as focused on making sure that there area that was set aside for ministry met my standard for personal and communal worship. Now, what does that have to do with sweeping the streets today making me feel better? There is something to be said for just getting to work and making something better than it was. The longest hump I have ever accomplished started the same way that the shortest one did, I took a single step. Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” God certainly can use majestic and radical events to make instant change in our lives. I know that is some people’s experience. But God can also use the unexpected and the small gesture to do the same. That’s more my experience. Not the crashing thunder, but the still small voice. Taking the small first step today and just getting out my door, and finishing the day with some good solid labor that is observably obvious is that still small way that the Lord helps to bring me back. I may try to hide from it at times, I may even fight it at times, but the nice thing is that He never stops. And I sure keep leaving plenty of messes that He needs to help clean up…but at least I’m on the road to renewal again.