We stood outside our classroom in the hallway of Palm Beach Gardens Elementary School, twenty-nine expectant children waiting on the return of our beloved teacher, Mrs. Walker. It was 1968. A statewide teacher's strike took her away, but with the clash over she was coming back. Today was the day.
When we saw her we cheered!
What would pull such emotion from a little tribe whose daily highlight was recess? Educational politics, what was that? Monetary benefits, that meant nothing to us. But her love, now that made perfect sense.
Mrs. Walker cared. Her affection was radiant; glistening shimmers of love dancing on the edges of the insignificant moments of our lives.
I remember Trick or Treating that year. Costumed as a ghost, my tiny frame draped in a white sheet with cut-outs for Casper's eyes, my presence was neither ominous or frightening. Still I was a ghost and, of course, invisible.
Mrs. Walker lived on Althea Way, just a block south from our house. As our troop of Halloween haunts made our way through the neighborhood, we landed at her doorstep. We rang the doorbell and waited. When she appeared, we shouted, “Trick or Treat!”
What happened at that moment was not spectacular, but it was significant. Mrs. Walker's gaze penetrated my clever disguise. She said, "That's Tommy!" and pulled me close in an enveloping hug of love.
I am blowing the dust off a memory almost fifty years old. One moment can last a lifetime.
When Paul writes, "whatever you do," I think he had in mind front porch hugs. The word, “whatever” comes from the Greek word, PAN. It means "all," "the whole," "every kind of." Paul is saying we give every slice in the pie of our lives to honor God, not just the slices people see. It is front porch welcomes, patient listening, and tender attention at a time no one will witness.
As I think of these events, I remember the story (perhaps apocryphal) of an interaction between Michelangelo, the great Renaissance sculptor/painter, and his assistant. Michelangelo labored under the Rome's Sistine Chapel for four years. As he stood on the scaffolding under his enormous "canvas," neck bent, back arched, eyes up, he applied paint to the wet plaster.
One day as the famous painter was laboring endlessly over a small corner of one of the frescoes, his assistant called up from the floor below: “Michelangelo, why are you taking so long with this one tiny detail when it is not even visible to the human eye from below?” Michelangelo is reported to have replied: “It is enough that God will see it and know that it is beautiful.”
Paul's “whatever” is every hidden corner of our work -- the Sistine chapel or Mrs. Walker's front porch. So today, why not identify a hidden corner of your life. No one else really sees it, but God does. What does it look like for you to do that "in the name of the Lord Jesus”?
Half-hearted is not in the vocabulary of the great or of those who want to give God their best. Leonardo da Vinci purportedly said,
If one of the greatest artists of all time feels melancholy about his efforts, how much should we labor to give God our best.
Today may every hidden corner, every front porch encounter, every piece of the pie that is your life, reflect praise to our Creator whose creative genius is so obviously apparent in all the hidden corners of our world.
"One day as the famous painter ..." from Rev. Luther Zeigler, "When No One But God is Watching." June 22, 2014. http://www.emmanuelmanchester.org/?p=522. Accessed August 12, 2016.