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Eyes on the Invisible

By Sarah,* RMM worker in North Africa

Recently, I have been thinking about what it looks like to maintain and grow in our relationship with Jesus when our lives are full of the ordinary and seemingly insignificant details that feel unrelated to the Kingdom. How do I keep my eyes on the invisible when my life is full of the beautiful busyness of being a mom of five – keeping track of all the logistics of mealtimes, snacks, books for school, and bedtime routines? “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1). I try to focus on him as I pick up the tiny Lego pieces for the umpteenth time, as I pack the second snack for the day, hang up the next load of laundry or begin homeschool with our oldest daughter. I know this is all related to the Kingdom and the effort that I put into any of these tasks and into the relationships of those closest to me reveals my desire to be like him, but these are all the visible realities of my life.

As I was playing tetherball the other day with my daughter, I wanted to cuss when the ball hit me in the face. It wasn’t about the ball hitting me, although it really hurt, but it was about not knowing how to respond to our daughter as she talked again about her loneliness and wishing her life looked different this year. I can’t make it better, I can only cry with her and listen and encourage her to see the positive things that are in her life right now. It was about listening to one of our twins whine about how the other one got him wet on purpose after he had “accidentally” hosed him. One more dish to wash, one more time putting away the food that no one else seems to want to put away, and one more time sweeping up the crumbs and folding the clothes. And I am tempted to be discouraged about how any of the things I am doing really matter.

"The darkness that expresses itself in the pounding of my heart and the nonsensical thought patterns that make me feel like life is out of control and overwhelming."How in the middle of all of this do I train my eyes to see the invisible? I’m not sure I have the answer to this, but I know that recently when I have let go of striving and asked him to give me contentment in the moment, I have had a lightness in my spirit that I am starting to recognize as joy. It is a lightness that I have experienced in the face of the darkness that has stolen my sleep many nights. The darkness that expresses itself in the pounding of my heart and the nonsensical thought patterns that make me feel like life is out of control and overwhelming. How do I face these realities in my life when the anxious thoughts threaten to steal my peace?

The answer to my question came in the form of a book I’ve been reading. In Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster says the Incarnational tradition, one of six he highlights in Christian faith, “…focuses upon the present visible realm of the invisible spirit. This sacramental way of living addresses the crying need to experience God as truly manifest and notoriously active in daily life.” Viewed through this lens, the unending dishes, laundry and toys to be picked up become sacrament, and each of us are priests as we consecrate these beautiful activities of daily living to Jesus. The invisible is being made visible through the incarnation.

I want to live into this reality even if it means suffering with Jesus and carrying the scars that he did. The times that I can’t sleep because my mind won’t turn off or the times I face the darkness head-on when I prepare to go to work in a small town about an hour away; these are the scars I carry from the battle I am fighting. When I go to work, my hands and feet are his hands and feet and sometimes they carry the scars that his did. And as the Kingdom of God breaks through in healings, a smile on the face of a child who used to think she didn’t belong, or an association that is bringing hope, the invisible is being made visible.

As I write this, I am sitting on a stool in my kitchen flipping pancakes for my family’s breakfast. Can I see Jesus in the nourishing, filling of my children’s stomachs, providing them what they need for today? I am invited to see that it is as sacred as the time my husband and I spend in God’s presence in the mornings. I want to live into this reality, seeing the dichotomy of visible and invisible melt into one as I view them in the light of the incarnation.

This doesn’t mean I won’t get tired and frustrated with the unending tasks constantly in front of me, but I can find joy in the times I put in the next load of laundry, sweep up the crumbs, start the next meal, or drive over the mountain to work, knowing they are all sacred and that I am living sacramentally, joining Jesus in living out the invisible in this visible realm.

Please pray for Sarah, her husband Josiah,* and their five children as they continue to live and serve in North Africa. Pray for strength to perform both the monotonous and the exciting tasks, and pray that God would use their daily sacramental living to shine his light in North Africa.

*Names changed for security