“Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.” (Isaiah 54:2)
The Prophet Isaiah is suggesting that we should enlarge the tents of our lives and work. Whether as individuals or as a group, we tend to get comfortable with familiar people, familiar friends, familiar routines, familiar work, and even familiar forms of outreach. Isaiah encourages us not to fall into the bed of comfort and familiarity, but rather to move the walls of our tents to include people who are not a part of our normal social patterns, people who may not necessarily share our background, beliefs, and values.
I have been involved in various forms of Christian ministry for a good part of my adult life. Much of it has been peer related – young people when I was young; business people when I was in business; people who were part of my social patterns at the time.
A few years ago I started volunteering in a local jail ministry. It challenged me. I was not comfortable and felt like I was out of my element. While this ministry is currently suspended during the COVID pandemic, I believe God wants me to continue when it resumes. God calls us to faithfulness, often without the benefit of a report card or feedback. It is our presence and love that he wants regardless of what we perceive the outcome to be.
Enlarging our tents can also include how we relate to one another — family, friends and strangers. Pope Francis has encouraged us to engage in “little gestures” of love. He cited examples for the family. “They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early breakfast awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work…a blessing before we go to bed.” “Love is shown by little things,” says Francis.
In an Alpha outreach program at our local parish, when we pray with people to experience more of the Holy Spirit in their lives, we often hear about their desire to love more. Loving more starts with “little gestures” of love. As the King said in the Parable of the Talents, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.” (Mt. 25:21)
Loving more starts with the little things every day. As loving in the little things becomes a habit, God increases our capacity to love and sacrifice in the larger things. A habit of love in the little things will open the door to people familiar and unfamiliar, and enlarge our tents.
How can you enlarge your tent to love in the little things?