A Single Cup of Water - Part 3


By Nate Hartman

April 1, 2020

When I started NCSAA, the Christian sports ministry for which I work, in 2003; one of the songs that captured my attention, that motivated my work, was Sara Groves’ “Why It Matters”. Her words resonated in my heart’s desire, in my work’s purpose, as I sought to pursue and share a beauty in athletics rooted in relationship with Christ – one that would strike a contrast against the self-glorification that our world’s sports culture embraces, one that would proclaim boldly the truth that “all of life is rubbish apart from the surpassing grace of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.”  For rubbish it is – our victories, our achievements, our giftedness, our work and our words, our opportunities and opinions, our riches and our relationships. All of it…ALL of it…It does not matter, if it does not bring us into closer relationship with our Creator, if it does not reflect the truth of who He is.

“Like the statue in the park
Of this war-torn town
And it’s protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters

Show me the love that never fails
The compassion and attention
Midst confusion and dissension
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters

Like a single cup of water
How it matters”

My earliest experience with Sara’s song was a sort of theme song for my vocation, but in recent days my “life’s work” has taken new direction, in the same way that many of our lives have taken unexpected turns and been interrupted by unprecedented matters. A virus that I had never heard of, just weeks ago, has brought uncertainty, fear, tension, and conflict into my community. One of my earliest mentors and dearest friends has died and left a deeply-felt void in my life – in the lives of all who knew him. The pages of my social media feeds are cluttered with arguments and anger, politics and pettiness, unease and untruth.

My friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, how we live and serve in this time – these moments of stress and isolation – are so critical. Like a single cup of water, your life matters. My choices – how I treat others, how I use my words, whether I am willing to be humbled – matter. Will I point others toward the only Source of hope and peace and assurance at this time, or will I insist on being right, clinging to my livelihood, or feeling sorry for myself? Can I maintain a commitment to encouraging and serving others – being aware of and meeting their needs, perhaps in ways requiring an unusual amount of creativity or perseverance…perhaps requiring a nudge from others around me to pry my focus from my own interests or concerns?

We are the body of Christ, who is the “visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). How we live, how we serve and speak and love and support one another, matters so much right now. In the darkness and the chaos, amidst the conflict and the isolation, we need to mirror the image of God. We need to be different. Can we commit – even when we disagree about what should be done, whether a person is right or wrong, how much is enough or too much – to loving instead of arguing? Trusting more than worrying? Serving above self-concern? Words of compassion, rather than insisting upon being right? Can all of us commit to encouraging one another when we are struggling, helping each other remember the truth, giving each other grace when we disagree?

Today, right now, in the next moment…let each of us choose to do something that matters, to fashion beauty with our decisions. If you are a parent teaching your children at home, you can do this. If you are a music artist with no venues at which to sing, you can do this. If you are a grandparent missing your grandchildren, you can do this. If you are a writer stuck at home with passion in your heart, you can do this. If you are a student who misses your routine and appreciates your teachers’ efforts during this strange time, you can do this. If you are a photographer with a social media account, you can do this. If you are an athlete missing your teammates, you can do this. All of us can do this.
Let us be like the star that Sam saw above the mountains of Mordor (in “The Return of the King”). “The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For life a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty ever beyond its reach.”

Let us recognize our identity and purpose, given to us by our Father. In the words of one of my favorite artists, Andrew Peterson, “The world knows darkness. Christ came into the world to show us light. I have seen it, been blinded by it, invaded by it. I will tell its story.”

And let us not be tempted to relegate that duty to public figures or writers or artists or others that we believe have the eyes and ears of the world. You, my friend, have the attention and trust (and responsibility toward) those people that God has placed in your path, in your community (as tiny as it may be). Francis Schaeffer put in well when he said (in “Some Perspectives on Art”):

“No work of art is more important than the Christian’s own life, and every Christian is called upon to be an artist in this sense. He may have no gift of writing, no gift of composing or singing, but each man has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives his life. In this sense, the Christian’s life is to be an art work. The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.”

Can we do this together? Like a single cup of water, how it matters.

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Word of Life Bible InstituteWaynesburg UniversityMount Vernon Nazarene University