by Emily Hartford, Thompsonville, Illinois
Photos from: Joyous Photography
Note: I originally shared this with my home congregation in Thompsonville, IL, USA. My hope is that it may serve as a thinking point for other young parents and young adults.
May you be blessed as you look to the simplicity of your own life and find the beauty.
While I was traveling in Louisiana, recruiting for Graceland University, I came across a kind man who gave me a challenge. He was the Mission Center President, and was kind enough to host myself and a friend at his house in between camps. I was able to do lots of laundry, and rest, but I most enjoyed our conversations.
George and I would sit and talk church in our downtime. He shared with me the joy he was finding in seeing the Divine in the everyday things. He challenged me to do the same, and said “Come back and tell me about it when you’ve found something.”
I tried and I tried. I tried to see the Divine in the tomato that I was cutting.
I told George about it and he said “Too complicated.”
“Too complicated?” I thought. “How in the world can a tomato be too complicated?”
I tried again and again that day and the next, and each time George would assure me that I was trying too hard, but that it would come. I was so intrigued by George’s challenge, that I continued it into the school year that fall.
One day, I simply got it. I don’t even remember the story now, but I do remember thinking “I have to email George!” I sent him a message, and his reply this time was just what I was hoping. I “got” it. I understood what it meant to search for the Divine in my everyday life. I thank George for that message, and today want to share a story with you that has come out of that lesson.
As I sat down to prepare this sermon, I was struggling. I love to share personal stories and connect with the scripture, but no connections could I find. I was searching through my Australian experiences, my Graceland experiences, even my high school experiences, and while some could be meaningful, none really fit. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a friend’s blog that I discovered my story. Dan Gregory, on his blog “ilovecofc” said:
“For ultimately, we know that the testimonies aren’t primarily about US, but about GOD and God’s love. When we’ve felt such powerful, comforting, or healing moments, how can we possibly keep them to ourselves?! The best part? Our testimonies don’t have to be earth-shattering or filled with insight. They tend to occur through little things we notice and small moments that bless us. We don’t feel the pressure to have to point to some life-or-direction-changing moment, but find confidence that God’s Love Story is usually written in the every-day-ness of our lives.”
Dan’s message reminded me of George’s, and I began to once again search my heart for a story. This time I looked to my own every day life, and I didn’t have to go far. I realized that I had simply been trying too hard.
Read more of Emily’s story next week in Part 2 of “Called to Serve”!