I’ve been sitting in my car at the playground parking lot for 45 minutes. It’s a routine I often do on Sunday mornings before most of the volunteers show up at church. It’s my calm before the storm. I eat something I probably shouldn’t, consume a high dose of caffeine, and look over my sermon notes.
Today I noticed something. The whole time I’ve been sitting here, there has been a man pushing his teen-aged, disabled daughter on the large, yellow disability swing. You know, the one that looks like a baby swing, but could hold an adult.
For 45 minutes, he has been pushing her non-stop. She is loving it. She squeals and flails her arms with every swing. He looks bored. He’s burned through a couple cigarettes now and the action of pushing the back of her swing looks automatic. I don’t think he’s unhappy, but I’m sure he could think of more enjoyable things to do on a Sunday morning.
But, he’s not doing those things, he’s pushing his handicapped girl on the swing set and she’s having the time of her life. Will it change her life? Will it cause her to function better in a neuro-typical world? I doubt it, but it means the world to her right here and now, and he knows it and he’s just going to keep pushing, sleepy, bored, tired feet.
It’s called love.
I think about serving others. Volunteering in church, caring for my kids, doing things that are often monotonous, grinding, or boring for the sake of someone else. Most of the time I don’t even see “fruit”. People aren’t giving their lives to Christ by the hundreds at our church (It’s single digits most years), I seldom get thanked for what I do, and sometimes my mind drifts to places that are more exciting and carry immediate rewards.
But, like the dad at the park, I have a responsibility. Children are learning about Jesus in our Kids Church, our camp for abused and neglected foster children is making a difference in young hearts, and people DO encounter God during our worship times.
Sure, it’s not sexy. We’re not bursting at the seems with newcomers, and we’re often hanging by a thread financially. We’re not the young, hip, on the move church in town. We’re more like that tiny junk drawer in your kitchen that has ketchup packets and the manual for your microwave oven in it. But, just like the park dad, God is all over us in a special way.
So, what does all this mean to me? I’m going to keep on pushing the swing. I’m committed to all the starfish that come through our doors and they can count on me that I’m not going to call it quits just because we’re not climaxing every week with explosive growth and dramatic encounters.
I’m in it for the long haul.
It’s called love.