big obedience in small places
For the last several weeks I’ve been mulling on the idea of obedience – what it takes, what it requires from me. I have the strong impression from the Lord that this season of our lives is about "big obedience in small places" and so I’ve been grappling with what that means for me, for my family. I read lots of blogs and books and am encouraged and challenged by the way women and men are obeying God in really big things…and I rejoice over their obedience and I am inspired by it. But lately I have been wondering where is my big thing? In my innermost thoughts, it has boiled down to just a lot of comparison, really.
We are part of a generation of believers who are not only more globally connected than ever before, but who are always looking to the Next Big Thing. We don’t just enjoy each other in the company of Christ, we Do Life Together. We don’t just work together to bring meals to those in need, we start a Missional Movement to Feed People. We don’t just do anything quietly, we create networks and businesses and collectives and campaigns. And for those of us not called to the Movement and the Network…it can feel lonely and quiet.
As I confessed recently, I have been struggling with a great deal of discontent before God and, while much of that has to do with growing our family, there is an equal amount of wonderment and frustration that has been directed at our life’s work. I am a writer and an occasional photographer whose full time job is at home with a two-year-old. My husband is a pastor and a teacher (who is still in school) and whose full time job is, well, let’s call it tent-making. Our fiscal situation is tense. We have not “planted roots” with any particular plan in place and we are in our thirties what are we doing with our lives?!
I’ve certainly wondered if this is this one of those Luke 16:10 scenarios. Is God asking me to be faithful here in the ‘little’, so that He can give me much? But….as I wrote in my recent post on honesty, I don’t want to treat God like a vending machine…I don’t want to just put in obedience so I can get something out of Him. So what about this season of just obeying in the quiet and small? What if it’s about the obedience, not the outcome?
I need to think on this. The idea of being obedient if it only ever means "small" things.
One of my favorite movie lines ever is from You’ve Got Mail. (Yes. It is.) Kathleen Kelly owns The Shop Around the Corner – a tiny and precious children’s bookstore that ultimately has to close its doors when the chain store moves into the neighborhood. In one of her email musings, she writes, "Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?"
This is how I feel. Except now I am coming to see that it is absolutely brave to be obedient in small places.
I guess this is part of my journey in contentment. God is asking me for big obedience in places that seem very small. And I am making it my business to see the value in them just the same. I do not need to measure my value or the value of my obedience next to someone else’s call. My “small” work at home, in our little church, around our community is not unworthy and it is not somehow less thrilling than the big, wild, social justice-y things that I read about. When we know the voice of the Father and we know His Word, we can obey whatever He asks of us. God does not appear to be asking us to do something that thrills and inspires others, but I am certain it is of great value to the Kingdom in its own quiet way. To borrow directly from a previous post: Am I really, truly going to approach God with a non-selective readiness to obey? Am I ready to relinquish my demands and set my hopes squarely in the Lord, not in what I think I could do for Him if He would just ask us to be part of Some Exciting Movement?
It’s a long journey. There is an urgency to obeying what God asks of us. And if it seems small, it’s okay. It really is. Because I am learning God and I am learning obedience and I am rejoicing in both. And I am rejoicing for you, as you obey Him. And maybe you can rejoice for me, too? And we are both brave to answer Him and to obey, because the value is not in the size of the life (as if a life could be measured this side of eternity) – the value is in the obedience to the One who gives us life.