Simple Solutions,Unconventional Methods
Our church is landlocked. We have a nice parking lot, two actually. Thankfully, they both get filled quite often on Sunday mornings. As attendances have ebbed and flowed over the years, and as holidays roll around each Christmas and Easter, extra thought has to be given as to whether or not we will have enough parking spaces available. It is a good problem, but it is still a potential problem that has to be considered.
After all, we don't want visitors to get the sense that “We’re full.” or that there's “No room in the Inn.” It is intimidating enough for many to just walk into the church building. Parking shouldn’t be something stressful to navigate upon arrival to the church property as well.
On the flip side, it is always fun to see how creative people can get when parking spots are at a premium. And, often it is the elderly folks that are the most determined to find a space that will work. I both hate and love to see an older lady shuffling in on a Sunday morning after wiggling her car into a ‘make-do’ parking spot, winding her way through the cemetery and finally arriving on the sidewalk to enter the church. Now that’s determination!
So, what’s been our parking space solution? Well, we’ve remarked the parking lot a few times. We’ve not gotten upset if someone parks on the grass or on the edges of the cemetery. We’ve even considered “off sight” parking a time or two. But, for now, our extended parking is in a barnyard. Yep, a barnyard. One of our church members who lives near the church allows us to use their field for parking. They even mow it for us!
This 'parking lot' may be a bit non-conventional, but it has been a huge blessing for our staff and church leadership to use. It is a simple way to make room for others – especially for guests, the elderly and parents juggling young children. Thankfully, the grassy field is no longer a ‘working’ barnyard, and it has been years since I had to tip toe between cow pies on a Sunday morning!
However, I do get a lot of grass on my shoes when the field has been recently mowed. Since grass clippings are not a planned accessory for the day, I simply stomp my feet as I walk across the road. Then, I scrape and swipe my shoes in the grass along the sidewalk, stomp a little bit more and try to enter the church unnoticed. (And, if necessary, I go straight to the bathroom and grab a paper towel to remove any stray grass clippings that continue to cling to my shoes.) Whew! It can be a bit of a process from time to time.
But, this past Sunday things played out a bit differently. As I pulled into my 'parking spot' in the barnyard, up on the grassy hill next to my husband's truck, I realized the ground was saturated from all the rain that had recently fallen. Off came my flip flops so I could walk barefoot in the wet grass, avoid getting my shoes wet and simplify my de-grassing process - of both shoes and feet! But, then I saw it. The best solution ever. A puddle, and a clean puddle at that! Yep, that's right. If you would have been watching me this Sunday, I swished my grassy feet into the puddle and it worked great! With no more grass to contend with, I put my flip flops back on, crossed the road, walked up the sidewalk and into the church. Problem solved!
Thank you, God, for the simple things in life. Parking spots, puddles and grassy hills. You care about the smallest of details in our lives, and I praise you for it! Thank you for putting an extra smile on my face as I entered the church this Sunday – with our little secret! Thank you for those who attend our church, who love you, who are seeking you, who know you and who want to be known by you. May each of us see the simple ways that we can reach out to others with your love. Even when others have no clue what small sacrifice we may make just to make them more comfortable, we can relish in the fact that you see our deeds and know our servant hearts. Help us to be your hands – and feet – as we love and serve in the ‘field’ of ministry you have given to each of us.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
...and maybe you, too, can enjoy splashing in a puddle someday soon!