WHAT SNOWFLAKES CAN TEACH US ABOUT SERVING
As I look out my window today, I see a multitude of beautiful snowflakes fluttering to the ground. In God’s remarkable way, each tiny flake is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. It takes no time at all for these perfect little flakes to cover the ground and create banks that gradually grow higher and higher – each flake simply doing its job without concern about whether it is valuable enough, big enough, or useful enough.
I think those snowflakes have a lot to teach us about a life of service. According to 1 Peter 4:10, each of us (as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms) should use whatever gift we have received to serve others. How do we go about this?
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love others. When we love God first, His love can then pour through us, empowering us to love/serve others. So, my working definition of using our grace gifts to put our love into action is to SERVE.
SIMPLE AND SMALL
Keep it small. Keep it simple. Simple, small steps begin to open our eyes to needs that we can meet with our grace gifts.
When we began Chronic Joy, we were not equipped to do what we do today. We simply began with one tiny step – followed by another and another, and so on. While this might not seem like the best example of simple and small, our focus all these years later is as it was then: making a difference one precious life at a time.
Are you wondering about a good place to start? The next time you are in the grocery store parking lot, find one cart to return. You might be surprised to discover the next time you are in that parking lot, you will notice more carts that need to be returned because you began to train your eyes to see the one small thing you can do.
EXPLORE YOUR STORY
Look back in time; remember when you discovered something that interested you, piqued your curiosity, amazed you, or simply looked like it would be fun. (A fond memory of seeing someone else use their grace gifts might spark your interest.)
As a child, I had never seen anyone make bread from scratch, so when I saw my grandmother skillfully knead dough and then make fried bread, it became a powerful memory. As I explored my personal story, this memory became a catalyst for my journey into bread-making. When my children were young, I learned to use a bread-maker which was an easy way to step into bread-making. Over time I began to make bread, cinnamon rolls, and pizza crust from scratch.
RESEARCH, READ, AND REACH OUT
When a little spark of an idea occurs to you, dig a little deeper, check out a how-to video, or ask someone to help you get started.
At one time, I learned a bit about knitting. So, when I felt a tug to start a small project, I asked my mother-in-law (who has given me knitted socks for Christmas for many years) to show me how to do a simple “yarn over” stitch. That was just what I needed to make dishcloths for the women in my small group (though admittedly, they were not quite square when I finished them). Click here for the simple pattern I used – and for pictures of the ones I made.
VIBRANT EXPRESSION OF WORSHIP
Ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration; then (using your grace gifts), offer your love in action as a vibrant expression of worship for who He is and how He has poured love into you. Ask His blessing for the recipient of your love in action.
As I prepare, knead, and bake bread (and even when I’m washing the bowls), I sense God smiling. His pleasure (as well as a deep-settled joy and the peace that comes from His love) pours out into my simple loaves.
Enjoy the journey without any thoughts about the outcome. As with anything new, we rarely start as experts. So appreciate the bumps in the road as part of the growth along the way.
A few years ago, I became interested in baking sourdough bread. Using her grace gift, my daughter-in-law began the arduous task of growing the starter; she then gave it to several of us in the family for Christmas. I read some recipes, discovering one that made sense to me. For several months, I cared for my starter and baked bread – but sadly, something went wrong. My starter developed a pink streak that turned out to be an unhealthy bacterium. So I had to throw it away. I had learned a lot and assumed that I was done baking bread.
More than a year later, I sensed a tug to try again, but since beginning a new jar of starter seemed like more that I could manage, I was about to give up. After reaching out to others and with a little research, I found that I could order a small amount of live, healthy, heirloom sourdough starter from (of all places!) Amazon. Breadtopia Sourdough Starter has videos showing exactly how to revive and manage the starter as well as bake a beautiful, delicious loaf of bread. This was just what I needed to begin again! Initially, I baked a loaf a week that my husband and I enjoyed. As my skill grew, I began baking for others.
CARE AND PATIENCE
The process requires care and patience. I start a loaf the night before. The amount of yeast is so small, but within 8 to 12 hours, the dough doubles in size and is ready to be stretched so it can rise again, and finally be baked. This great picture of the power of small, simple ingredients, patience, and time has softened my heart. It has given me a small ministry right where I am with just what I have.
Next, I made a loaf for my dear friend Cindee, then for other people I knew would be stopping by for a visit. I made it for my kids and grandkids. (Nana’s bread is a favorite. In fact, I recently split a loaf with my daughter. The next morning while she was making breakfast, she turned around to see my grandson cradling the half-loaf under his arm, pulling tender morsels from the middle, then stuffing them into his mouth as fast as he could.)
Last Christmas, I made loaf after loaf for many people in my sphere. It seems fresh-baked bread made with love elicits fond memories and stories from their own lives about the simple joy of fresh-baked bread.
This may be a temporary ability or it may last for a long time, but it doesn’t matter because my bread ministry makes a difference in my heart. Perhaps that is the point of serving – not what we do, but how God uses it to make us into His image – one snowflake, one grace gift, one loaf at a time.
You’re invited to discover some simple and small ways to serve with our Grace Gifts printable.
I was surprised that our Ask Generous Questions printable was a great way to explore my own story. Consider reading through, reflecting on, and/or journaling your responses to the questions to learn more about you.
Executive Director and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy®
Pamela, a leader and a visionary following God's call to inspire those affected by chronic illness, mental illness, and chronic pain, believes that every precious life affected by illness is both vital and purposed.
Pamela is the mom of three married children, a grandma of five, and a wife of more than 30 years. She is diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, chronic migraines, and a host of other chronic conditions. She enjoys hot tea, reading, and walking her teddy bear dog, Cocoa.
What are Your Grace Gifts?
How has God gifted you? Where do you feel His gentle nudge to love one another or the Spirit's tug to get involved? A grace gift is a beautiful Holy Spirit-inspired act of ministry that works in harmony with the gifts given to the whole Body of Christ.