The COVID-19-induced shutdowns impacted all of us in big ways and small. Not being able to go to work or church were some of the more significant changes as we collectively grieved our routines, our relationships, and our revenue. It’s been hard to find our footing, to create a sense of security in a world that offered us anything other than safety, to know when to hold on to the hope of “a return to normal” and when we would need to permanently adapt.
As ridiculous as it may sound, I grieved the closing of my local library. Reading is one of my favorite past-times, especially in the summer, and suddenly I was trapped in my house with only the books on my shelf that I had already read. It’s a small thing, to be certain, but in a season where all the big things have gotten shifted and rearranged, the little things have brought me comfort and stability. And suddenly, they were gone as well.
Until … my friend, Christine, came up with a great idea that saved the day, not just for me, but for others, too. Christine moved to a new property last year, one that boasted a small shed out back that she had designated for her floral design business. And then one day, God dropped the seed of an idea in her heart, and without skipping a beat, she jumped on social media to announce that her shed would become a sort of substitute library for those of us who were starving for good reading material. People were welcome to donate books for all ages, and she carefully sanitized and arranged all the offerings in a welcoming little oasis at the back of her yard. She even included a candy jar … for grown-ups, no less, a true stroke of genius!
And then, people took it a step further and shared games and puzzles and other items that would help entertain families during stay-at-home orders, a group of random strangers who never saw or met one another, all contributing to the common good. I have no idea how many participated or who they were or how far they drove to get there, but every time I visited The Shed to return my books, new ones appeared on the shelves, and I helped myself to a fresh stack of stories to sustain me for another week or so. Sometimes I took a break midday to consume a few chapters, and other times I read till the wee hours of the morning. Each time, I felt a rush of gratitude for Christine and her obedience to God in what may have seemed insignificant, but in fact sustained me and undoubtedly many others during the past few months.
And so it begs the question … how are you using your shed? Of course, I mean this metaphorically, but each of us has been given a space, an idea, or a gift that was always meant to be shared. Something we have to offer that others need. And I wonder if some of our dreams and desires need to be tweaked a bit to include other people who might be part of making it a reality, who might inspire teamwork rather than lone ranger thinking. And perhaps we don’t need to wait for a global pandemic to spur us on toward thinking outside the box in order to bless and encourage other people. Perhaps today is the day to kick off something new!
Maybe a birds-eye-view of your property would be appropriate as we dive into the summer months, which may look a little different this year as people might be unable to relax and vacation as normal. How could your backyard, your garden, your pool, your flowerbeds, or yes, even your shed, be repurposed and reimagined to help bless others and meet needs that may not have existed before? I believe the possibilities are endless.
We were designed in the image of God, who is the ultimate Creator, taking nothing and making it into a glorious something. I’m guessing nothing would thrill Him more than the opportunity to co-create something new with us for the sake of others. Maybe your pool could be open on Tuesday afternoons to some of your mom friends, or that hill on your property could be turned into a Slip-N-Slide for your neighborhood on the weekends. Maybe your new grill or deck could host a few picnics or potlucks for people who are missing the fellowship of others, older folks who have been isolated, or neighbors who don’t know Jesus and don’t even know they need Him. Maybe your flowerbeds could be offered for those who would enjoy cutting a fresh bouquet for their kitchen table. Maybe your back yard could host a kickball or volleyball tournament, and maybe Sunday nights could be homemade ice cream or S’mores around the campfire. And how about your shed? Surely God has some cool ideas for that, as well!
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back;
lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes,” (Isaiah 54:2). Time to think bigger and broader, my friends. Expand your heart, expand your thinking, expand your space. God wants to fill them all.