Today, I’m waiting.
I’ve written openly before about Africa when I didn’t feel ready (at all). Though God’s unquestionably created strong, beautiful victories here since my return, question marks still loom large in my mind, compared to the purpose and certainty I felt overseas.
Perhaps I’ll regain that sense of purpose when my book releases in the fall; or, perhaps, that sense of “this is where I should be, what I’m made to do” is simply unrealistic this side of heaven.
So I wait.
And as I wait and hope for a “yes” after some significant “no’s,” night-time’s silence does its usual stirring inside me, with questions creaking in the dark, the lack of light rendering most things opaque.
I’ve thought a lot about everyday faithfulness, hoping to live the life of a quiet radical. So I am in the process of repeating truth to myself. I have realised that God never has to justify his math with me; to make something good happen so I will suddenly understand the complexity of his equations. Ultimately, He’s just God and I am not (again: You Potter, me clay).
I’m trying to take cues from Jesus in Gethsemane, who managed to both approach God boldly with honest desires and dreams, but also open-handedness: My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will (Luke 22:42).
The “Little” Life
This isn’t my first rodeo. Back when I had four kids five and under and was drowning in apple juice with a few Goldfish crackers floating on top, I’d asked a lot of the same questions. I’d been willing to go anywhere for God. And He chose suburbia complete with white picket fence and a dog. For real?
We’re often told to dream big for God. But, I had to come to the realisation that when I told God I would go anywhere, I kind of meant anywhere sexy. My me-centered cravings had, in some sly ways, gotten a little religious lipstick.
My desire to do something big for God has been, at times, just a desire not to be small. And even now, a part of me is waiting to shuck smallness. Currently, I’ve been “demoted” from the “religious-hero” job titles of “missionary in Africa, teacher of refugees” to “freelance writer, intentional friend and servant” (all while keeping “frizzy-haired mother who occasionally loses her phone”. Though, yes, I know God doesn’t see me as demoted).
And so, the words of author and speaker Courtney Reissig resonated deeply with me. In her post, “We Can’t Take Our Platform to the Grave”, she says:
The pattern of scripture is lose yourself and you will find yourself (Matt. 10:39). Smallness equals greatness. Faithfulness is success.
[Still] I don’t want to live under the guise of “I’m okay with smallness” all the while really longing for something better.
I’ve realised there’s still a part of me that longs to live a significant life to prove my worth—worth that Christ has already won—or perhaps to achieve some Christ-ified version of greatness. I would like my writing to reach millions and be translated into cool languages; for people’s lives to be changed radically because of their intersection with mine; for my children to become great saints in history.
Isn’t it odd that my desire for greatness “for God” can be the idol itself?
“God wants to do something ___ through you!”
We are frequently told some version of, “God wants to do something big through you!” Perhaps we picture ourselves vaulting over jungles to an unreached people group, or running a homeless ministry, or a crazy amount of colleagues becoming Christians because of our influence.
But I like the words tweeted by Chad Bird:
God has small plans for you. He’s working something little in your life. It may bore you, even hurt. It will be totally unawesome. Yet, tucked in that brown paper simplicity of life, God will be at work, hidden in his opposite, camouflaged in the colors of a secret sanctity.
Someone once pointed out to me a particular angle in the story of Jesus praising the widow who gave her two small coins in the temple. She’s written as having “put in everything she had” (Mark 12:44)—to the God who took her husband; who took, essentially, everything she has. Notice how Jesus is not impressed by the large, noisy gifts of the rich clattering into the box. He’s impressed instead by the quiet, all-in sacrifice—how she gave was more important than what.
Consider so many others who also had long periods of daily life in suffering: Jacob’s son Joseph, sitting in prison. Mary, watching her son die. John the Baptist, awaiting near-certain execution. God’s plans for His honour are in no way derailed or held back when we are unseen, unappreciated, or unimportant in this world’s eyes (1 Corinthians 12:16).
Which brings us to consider, what could be “important” for the sake of our own identity, other than quiet obedience? As Andrée Seu Peterson writes, “I figure if the King tells you to conquer the hinterlands one day and shoe his horse the next day, you should do them both without slacking. He is the king.”
I don’t know what smallness you’re muddling through like me. Maybe you’re tired of wiping bums (and everything else) all day, or of waiting tables at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or of hammering away at a degree and hoping “real life” starts soon. No matter our success (or lack thereof), may God continue to work smallness in us.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the author’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.