I recently received a She Reads Truth Bible and it has become a game-changer in my time reading scripture. I recently flipped to the back pages to a map titled, “Jesus’ Ministry Around the Sea of Galilee”. The map revealed a faded blob representing the Sea of Galilee with many dots scattered around the water. Each dot signified a work of Jesus’, such as the Sermon on the Mount, healings, teachings, miracles, the calling of his disciples, and even calming a storm. My eyes scanned each dot, silently mapping out a rough timeline of each event.
This image touched me. So many questions and images ran through my mind. Did Jesus wear a small smile as they walked past spots where miracles would but had not yet happened? Did he dip his toes in the water and consider how, at the appropriate time, his feet would walk across its waves? I bet the disciples had no idea how many incredible moments they would witness on the same shore they stepped out of their boats upon to first follow Jesus. As I stared at the Sea of Galilee and the dots scattered about, I thought about my own ministry map. What would it look like? Who would be included with each dot? Would there be multiple dots in the same place? I may not feed 5,000 people from a lunch packed for one, but I’d like to believe my journey of walking with Jesus includes incredible, humble moments worth pinpointing.
I know it would start in the Rockies of Colorado. Then there would be one at a Starbucks in Waxhaw, North Carolina where I met with 3 other friends every Friday morning in high school. The dots would scatter up to the Blue Ridge Mountains where there would be a multitude. In coffee shops, on the Parkway, in a rocking chair at a camp, and in a cozy room sitting on a well-loved couch where the conversations were too rich and the people too warm not to leave a mark. Later, approximately 74 markers in Leogane, Haiti would appear, where I encountered Jesus in a new way through a new community. Now, there are a few unexpected ones in Sumter, South Carolina where I imagine only more will continue to appear. Most of these markers are unexpected places I never thought would be a part of my ministry journey. It’s exciting and humbling to think that will only continue the older I get.
I love how Jesus displayed the art of ministry in his time on Earth. Ministry was a process. Where one place once held fear, he redeemed when he performed miracles. I love that. When I consider that well-loved couch mentioned earlier, I remember the tears I’ve cried into the cushions, the snuggles shared with loved ones, the pages turned on a lazy day, and the bodies squeezed in together on a movie night. The Lord truly uses the smallest things and places in our lives to hold the sweetest moments or most vulnerable conversations. When I sit in chairs, at desks, or on benches or staircases, I think of all that took place there before. The conversations shared, dreams started, ideas formed and emotions stirred in every corner of the world is incredible. There is no place off the map. There are no boundary lines for where God can work. This truth makes me ask myself two questions. First, am I letting chances for miracles slip by simply because of my surroundings? The rush between classes, the seat on the subway, the crammed elevator, do I put God in a box and deny he could work there or has not already showed up with others before me? Second, how am I growing my ministry map? Do I have intentions to add pinpoints, or will I live my life only adding unexpected ones that fall into my lap with ease?
As I mentioned before, ministry was a process for Jesus, but it was also intentional. He did not want a place, a conversation, or even interruptions go to waste. He took what was before him and made it into a remarkable, holy experience, a place worth recognizing on a map. We, living with that same Spirit in us, have the power to do the same. So, ask the difficult question, make the bold proclamation, buy the stranger’s cup of coffee, and offer hope or grace when it is needed. Your intentionality in seeking ministry opportunities could transform that corner booth, park bench, elevator ride or classroom into an encounter with Jesus on your map. Or even better, your intentionality could be a point in someone else’s journey worth remembering.
words by Lauren Grindstaff and photo by Hannah Jin