Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Why God does not call us to do great things.

Samwise, who helped his friend who was called to do great things.

I caught a few minutes of a youth conference being shown on one of the Christian networks on TV this past week.  Just enough to hear the speaker telling the young people that God wants them to do "great works" for Him.  They were to take the world for Christ.  I remember hearing the same thing at that age and just as the thousands of young people at that conference were doing, we shouted amen and hallelujah!

Great words.  Even better soundbite. But is it true?  An easy answer to that is... no.  

Oh, for a few there will be a world wide ministry.  Some handle it well, like Billy Graham.  Most do not.  I was reading not too long ago about a well known evangelist whose family life was a wreck.  As his fame increased, so did the expectations of the family for people to treat them like kings and queens. His oldest child went on to reject Christ and eventually took his own life after years of disillusionment.  The entire family did not handle fame and fortune well.

My husband and I were talking about friends of ours recently. The couple were our best friends in our early married years.  We attended the same weekly Bible study and prayer meeting.  We were there when their younger children were born and they sat with us at church and cried with us when our firstborn died after birth. 

They were good people with one (what we thought minor) flaw.  They constantly talked about doing great things for God.  They were convinced God called them to a worldwide ministry.  It wasn't until much later when we realized they never talked about their relationship to the Lord or their love for Him.  It was always focused on "their ministry".  We moved away after my husband finished graduate school and we eventually lost touch with each other except for annual Christmas Cards.

We would hear about them from mutual friends, how they went from one church to another.  Getting involved and then leaving when they could not be among the upper leadership of the church.  This went on for a very, very long time.  Eventually we moved back to the area and we visited them one day.  We were quite shocked to find three of their kids had completely rejected the Faith and the youngest was "iffy". 

What I remember from that visit most was how downtrodden our friends were.  Unhappy.  Empty.  We reached out to renew our friendship but they weren't interested for our theology was no longer what they followed.  We at times spoke Truth and did not give a "good confession".  We had fairly serious health problems, obviously because we lost our "good confession".  Sigh...

A couple years ago, my husband was skimming Christopher's copy of the University's Alumnus magazine and there... in the obituary section... was the name of the husband.  We were shocked for we hadn't heard a thing about his death.  We asked around and all we could learn was that it had been a suicide.  So terrible that those who knew the details didn't want to talk about it.  He never did the great things for God as he was promised.

In some ways, this is human nature.  For instance, there are millions of bloggers but a handful get the book deals and fame so other bloggers feel they are failures.  They forget they started out just to write or share photos or wax poetic about beautiful things.  They put their focus on the glitzy and glamorous blogs with thousands upon thousands of Followers so they become discouraged and write less and don't share much and eventually they just stop.  Because others did "great things" for God and in their mind they felt... insignificant.

I love this quote from Mother Theresa, "Be faithful in small things for it is in them your strength lies".  She also said, "Not all of us can do great things.  But we can all do small things with great love."

I truly believe God calls us on a journey that is our life.  How he judges us is how we live that life.  Our life.  His calling for us.  For you.  For me.  And contrary to what we were once told, we are not all called to do great things for Him.  We were called to live ordinary lives and be His hands and His voice and His feet and show His love to those He chooses to bring our way. 

We were told to talk to Him and walk with Him and read His Word and fellowship with Him.  Not to do great things for Him.  But to know Him.  That is what He desires from us and if instead we put the works of doing great things before knowing Him, then we are on shaky ground.

So if today you are discouraged because you did not win the world for Christ, that is okay.  Really.  Honest.  Read a Bible story to your child, bake homemade cookies to take to the office, make soup for your friend who is sick and tell them you are praying for them, write a letter to a lonely friend, invite the elderly neighbor to dinner... for they are your world.

As for me, today is Father's Day and my husband is still quite ill.  Finances are tight so I'm having boxed mac & cheese for dinner.  But I remembered I had lemons in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator and butter in the freezer.  So I made lemon bars, his very favorite dessert, for Father's Day.  Insignificant?  I don't think so, not in God's economy.

32 comments:

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Such a sad story, but often true I am afraid. But the Mother Theresa quote about doing small things with great love is the one to follow. I am sure your husband will enjoy his Father's Day dessert on more than one level!

Lynn said...

Brenda, Thank you so much for your encouragement and please never stop blogging. You are a blessing to whoever chooses to read your blog. Because of you I have found Elizabeth Goudge's books, which I so dearly love. Thank you for reminding me to live in this moment now loving my Dear Savior.

You, my dear Sister in Christ, are a blessing!!

peggy said...

Your post meant so much to me. Thank you, I feel very blessed by it.

rebecca said...

Praying your afternoon is blessed as you reflect on the faithfulness of God and enjoy those lemon bars! How thoughtful and resourceful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda. This is such an encouragement. Small gifts of service and loving others is truly so important. It is a good reminder that our life is not about us and our successes, but about knowing God and trying to do what He has set for us to do.
DIanne L

Vee said...

That is one of the saddest stories ever. We are only called to do what He tells us. Sometimes I take great joy in helping someone else do a great thing like sending Bibles or supporting missions or to support one who is doing a "big" thing. So glad that you found what your husband needs to feel honored this special day. My husband just received a six-pack of IBC rootbeer. He's very pleased. Praying for your hubby to feel much better very soon. A blessed Father's Day to him!

suzanne said...

small acts for God's kingdom often take more time and thought than one big grandiose gesture. I am always a little skeptical when someone talks of his or her "ministry", but leaves out the WHY. Too many women want a "ministry" when their real true calling is to minister to their families. God has given us our role....whether we want to do it is the real question. hope your husband feels better soon, miss brenda. those lemon bars surely will perk him up! yum.

Anonymous said...

Brenda,

I needed to read this today. Thank you for blessing me with this post. Your blog has been a favorite of mine for ages and I have been so encouraged by you over the years. Your words are exactly what I didn't know I needed to read this afternoon. :-) Keeping you and your hubby in my prayers today, too. Thank you, Brenda.

Joan

Kim said...

Blessings to you dear Brenda...Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Praying your husband feels better. Kim

Linda Fox said...

You said so many things that I agree with. Thanks for sharing, it's a good reminder that the little things are just as important and maybe not so little.

Mary said...

What they said --^ :-) You are so right....you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free. What a relief to know that we are here to "know Him", as you said, and to let His love live thru us to those around us.
You are, and have been, a blessing to me - a deep blessing to me many times (as I read your blog). Your words resonate with and confirm what the Holy Spirit is teaching me right now.
Praying for your DH and you today.
Hugs and Love :-)

Barbara said...

This is an absolutely beautiful post. I plan to save it to ponder and think. Thank you for reminding us that 'ordinary' people are not ordinary at all in God's kingdom. The Lord bless you.

l hoov said...

Thank you, Brenda, for your words and also your "great works", for I do think that your blog, that touches so many (myself included) is a "great work"...a gift from our Heavenly Father. My prayers for your husband, who is not doing so well right now. Lynne in MN
P.S. as we traveled from MN to Buffalo, NY this past week (via Michigan - so much better than going around Chicago!), I thought of you and how much you loved going to Michigan, and there are some beautiful spots in that state! Thank you for all you do!

Lisa in Texas = ) said...

Just what I needed to read today - Thank you so much for posting!
May God bless you and I hope your husband gets to feeling better soon.
Lisa :O)

Mary Sorensen said...

From the above comments, your timing was perfect!! : ) Thank you. I sometimes feel the pull of the world telling me that what I do at home isn't enough especially now that I don't have young children to take care of and I'm in my mid 50's. But there are those wonderful moments when I'm doing something domestic and I feel the strong presence of God - encouraging me and giving me peace and He once again makes me feel like I'm still on the right track.

Nanna Chel said...

Thank you, Brenda. Such an insightful post and that is a story I have heard many times before unfortunately. I am sure your hubby enjoyed his lemon bars :-)

Keri said...

Oh, Brenda, this is so timely for me, and I feel like it's the sense of relief that I've been needing. I've been struggling lately with feeling guilty because "all" I'm doing is trying to live my life as a wife and homeschooling mom to God's glory, serving in small ways as opportunities present themselves. It seems I see so many people who are doing big things for God, and I've felt like what I'm doing is not enough. I've been straining my brain and spirit, thinking and praying and trying to figure out what big thing I might be missing that I'm supposed to be doing for God right now! How silly of me... If He wanted me to do something big for Him, He surely wouldn't make it so difficult to figure out that I'd feel like I was working a difficult trigonometry problem! :-/ Thank you for allowing God to get His message across to me through your wisdom here. Thank you. Thank you.

Keri said...

I should add that I will say a prayer tonight that your husband feels better quickly. And no doubt that he felt blessed by your gift of his favorite dessert! "Small things with great love..." Exactly!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I so needed this reminder today! :)

~April

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I so needed this reminder today! :)

~April

Terra said...

How sad about your old friend. In Bible study of 1 Corinthians today we talked about how we may be called to do little things. Some of course are called to do big things. The main thing is to be faithful to answer that call. Oh and your lemon bars are a wonderful "small thing" or perhaps a big thing.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful post. What a blessing you are as you do your "small works".
Scripture says "For who hath despised the day of small things?" God has blessed you such a wonderful gift of words of encouragement and inspiration. Blessings to you,
Sharon D.

Anonymous said...

Well, we were all taught to some degree at least, as you describe, Brenda. But when you read the largest portion of Scripture anyway, it leads one to think of simply being faithful, and diligent in the small, everyday things of life. Few were called to be a Moses (and when you see what all they had to put up with...we should be grateful not to be in his sandals actually!!) I believe GOD has mapped out our lives and not always do I understand all of that, but I do take comfort in knowing HE knows all our days before there is one of them.

As to failure of families, that too, often simply seems just a result of living in this fallen world. Even near perfect families have fallen children. Even the best parent ever, had children who did not do so well...thinking of Adam and Eve!! I take comfort in that too!!
Elizabeth

Jenny said...

Just what I needed to hear at the end of a long insignificant day....or was it?

Heather LeFebvre said...

Yes, yes, and yes!!!!!! I wish this was the message that was taught to me from outside sources when I was a teenager instead of the "do great things for God." I loved that book "Ordinary" for it's pointing to this very thing.

Marilla Cuthbert said...

Dear Brenda,
I´ll definitely copy some of your post´s lines in my Encouragement Notebook, as I´ve already done so many times... I keep your words as little treasures, and they speak calm and peace and faith to me when I need a Christian friend (the nearest Christian church is 400 kms away).
I wrote these words by Laura Ingalls Wilder in my notebook too: "The sweetness of life lies in usefulness, like honey deep in the heart of a clover bloom". Only our idea of being useful doesn´t usually coincide with God´s. I love your humble, little hints for life and service. You are really an inspiration to me.
Love from Spain.

Kathy said...

Hope that your husband is feeling better, and I hope he was able to enjoy the lemon bars.
Thank you for your thoughts today. I love the quotes by Mother Teresa.

Carol said...

Brenda: Thank you for writing this post, which helped me so very much. I am praying for your husband. (MD)

Deb said...

Excellent post! Thank you. Hope your husband is now doing better!

Leslie said...

Thank you for this reminder. "Great" things look different for everybody! God uses us right where we are, because they is always a need to be met. :)
Blessings,
Leslie

hopeinbrazil said...

Brenda, I love you. As my missionary husband and I travel this year speaking in churches, I've been putting together some thoughts to share with women. This post was so helpful in clarifying one of my ideas. I hope you don't mind if I quote you.

Sandi said...

This was beautiful! Thank you for posting it. I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your friend.

A prayer that occured to me as I read the comments:

Lord, let me be ordinary, but with boldness!

:-)