Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lessons from a church mouse

We've just been graced with a visitor the past two weeks ... a church mouse that scurried here and there and quietly came and went, leaving us so much the better for her presence.

This church mouse took the form of a friend from the field in the states on sabbatical and visiting this area briefly ... but her quiet nature and busy schedule led me to nickname her "church mouse". What a blessing and privilege to get to sit at her feet any moment I could glean with her. I learned so much from our church mouse!

Because writing is how I process life, and because I didn't want the lessons I learned to leave my head the minute she gets on that plane - I wrote them down. I thought I'd share them with you because they are lessons we can all benefit from learning.

* It's a marathon, not a sprint. Our church mouse was constantly about the work she came here to do - meeting up with people, speaking at churches and groups, pursuing what is next in God's agenda for her life. Yet she also modeled for me rest and balance. If she needed to sleep 12 hours, she did. If she had to let go of a desired, but not necessary, task, she did that too. She has learned through illness that 20 hour workdays can't last very long. The race we are called to run in this life is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to pace ourselves.

* Prosperity of soul. Our church mouse epitomized a spirit that is at rest in God's hands. She knew what she needed to do to hear His voice, and she did it. She challenged me by her life to refuse the busy-ness that leads to desolation of our spirits.

* Perspective. The night before she arrived, our refrigerator went out. It was completely full of food, and the next day we would be spending 11 hours parking cars for a football game and immediately picking her up. The night she walked into our home, all our cold food was at the neighbor's and the kitchen was a mess. I was apologetic at the state of the house. Her perspective helped so much: "This is nothing compared to where I've been." As happy as I was to get the house put back together and the new refrigerator working, I was even more glad to be reminded that there are worse things than the failure of a modern convenience. Like a war zone, for example.

* Relationships. Our church mouse highly values relationships. Once again, this task-oriented person learned the value of relationship. That's a lesson I can never see too much.

* Honor. Our church mouse told us that our culture is based on fear and guilt. Where she has lived for 7 years is based on honor and shame. When you are in an honor-based culture, honoring others is even more important. And she did that so well. She honored everything about our home. She was completely, totally free of entitlement. She was so honoring at every speaking engagement I attended. When an offering was taken she was authentically surprised. She was truly honored when people wanted to listen to her. She honored people even in disagreements, refusing to burn bridges and constantly reaching out. Watching her relate from an honor-based worldview, I realized how much prayer is about honoring God. Which relates to another lesson ...

* Ask God/Act/Ask again. Part of her story includes a day when she realized she had never asked God what He wanted her to do with the gifts He gave her. She did, and found herself taking her skills around the world, one country at a time. She would ask Him, act, then ask again. She was in constant dialogue with Him. After her illness, she re-learned that lesson, and I saw it at work. I realized that asking HONORS God. Think of Abraham; Job; Habakkuk. All had relationships where they dialogued with God. And God was honored.

* Small acts, big seeds. Our church mouse's story of her faith-walk includes some very "small" acts. A junior high friend asking about church the next day ... a high school friend, years later, inviting her to join a lunch group ... a family who welcomed her into their home every day. She was literally "loved to the cross". The smallest acts were big seeds in her life. 

* The blessing of serving. I used to think I didn't have the gift of hospitality because I am NOT a Martha Stewart type person. My house is tidy but not beautifully decorated. Surely hospitality requires all of that! And really, I don't have the gift. But we do - my husband and I have learned over the years that jointly we can offer that gift, because all it really means is making people feel comfortable. In the process of serving, we get such a blessing and learn so much.

When our church mouse slipped away to another home for her last 3 days in town, we came home to a house that felt empty. It was amazing how much she added to our home in such a short time. We miss her already, but know that she is gracing someone else tonight, and will soon return to the part of the world she loves so much to pour God's grace on many others.

I also want to encourage you to take the time to learn from the church mice in your own lives - those people who are always there, but whose quiet nature might not scream out "here is a lesson". You might be amazed at all the lessons you will learn!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I think you described our church mouse perfectly. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and musings,... it made me smile to remember how I am blessed by this little mouse, too (also quite a lion in certain scenarios! :)