I spent the first five months of my marriage cooped up in a 750 square foot apartment watching the Food Network and HGTV all day long. I could not find a job anywhere doing anything. After months of applying for work with no replies, I grew desperate, and when I saw an ad in the newspaper for a housecleaner at the bed and breakfast, I printed out a resume and headed downtown. I did not get the housecleaning job, but they hired me as a cook in the deli that served lunch every weekday. It was not a job that I would have chosen, but it was far better than sitting in our apartment alone.
Occasionally when I was at work doing something mundane, like washing dishes, I could hear faint strains of bells from the church a block and a half away. Sometimes I stopped what I was doing and walked outside to stand on the back steps with my eyes closed to absorb the beautiful melodies of hymns I have been singing my entire life.
I wonder what my co-workers would have thought if they saw me doing this, but the music drew me to it in a way I cannot describe. There, for one or two minutes, I imagined that I was not in a cook in a small town in Mississippi, but somewhere else altogether. The music flowed through me and in me and coursed through my veins. I savored those moments.
Though simple and common, the bells were echoes of a greater glory, and they reminded me that even though I was doing something very trivial in the grand scheme of things, there is more to life than the same old everyday stuff that dominates my time. It’s easy to lose sight of who I am and where I am headed when I focus on the meaningless things that fill my life. But God will not allow me to forget my identity.
He uses the faint strains of church bells to draw my gaze upward and remind me that I am his beloved child, an heir alongside Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-6). He pulls me up and out of my everyday life and opens the eyes of my heart, enlightening me to “the hope of His calling,” and “the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and…the immeasurable greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.” (Ephesians 1:18-19). I find myself straining to hear the echoes of greater glory that surround me, and every now and then I catch a trace of the song that flows beneath the surface of this life.
As Christians, we are called to be both salt and light on this earth (Matthew 5:13-16). Salt, to add flavor, to enhance, to preserve those with whom we mingle. Light, to reflect, to beckon, to illuminate the darkness around us. We ourselves are to be echoes of a greater glory, reverberating with traces of the divine and reminding others that there is in fact more to life than the same old everyday stuff that dominates their time.
When the music faded, I opened my eyes and went back to the kitchen, where I finished washing dishes, but I saw my job through fresh eyes. I found purpose and reason, and though my task seemed very small, it afforded me the opportunity to be both salt and light, an echo of a greater glory, to those around me.