At the mall, at the grocery store, at work, and in myself: i see it everywhere. It is the solitary ones, mostly: wandering from aisle to aisle, store to store, looking for trinkets and small packages of joy. For some it is an article of adornment, a new shirt, new shoes, new jewelry. Some have the chameleon syndrome, always changing their look. Dying their hair, or cutting it short then growing it out, or decorating this or that patch of skin with a new tattoo. For some it is for attention’s sake. For others, like me, it is exactly the opposite. The tiny things are of another form: private toys, private joys. A book, a coffee, a video game, a movie, a snack. Tiny things that we use to medicate ourselves, to give ourselves another few moments of pleasure, or comfort.
i wrestle with these things greatly, not seeing at first their intrinsic danger. Some great things have i given, and some i have given up. i no longer am in the throes of addiction, for instance. i have left jobs and friends which encouraged using in my life, i have stayed in a challenging marriage even when it appeared there was no way forward, and i have attempted to acknowledge Christ in almost all of my major decisions to the best of my ability.
In light of all of this “personal sacrifice” (my heart tends to think), i just want to keep a few tiny things for myself. i want to maintain control over a few corners of land in a vast acreage that belongs to the King. Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these small pleasures. For “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal. 5 : 1) So i do not believe that Christ came to prohibit hair-dying or coffee-drinking or video-game-playing explicitly, but inasmuch as any of those things become things that i seek instead of Him, or things that i want to hold on to when He calls me to let them go, then He absolutely came to abolish them utterly and entirely. No matter how “small” they are.
Start a church. Be a missionary. Miraculously heal the sick. Please, something.
My heart yearns for something massive, some enormous mountain that i must move by faith. i want to eatsleepdrinkbreathe great things for the Lord. There are only two problems with this, two minor glitches getting in the way. First, God has not put any great things in front of me to do. And second, i am quite sure, quite sure, that even if He had placed them there, i am not anywhere near ready for the labor of faith and trust that such undertakings would require. Start a church? Am i prepared to have no idea how i am going to eat and pay for clothing and shelter? The same concerns apply to being a missionary, with of course the added bonus that in many places i would be be facing the very real possibility of death every day. Miracle healings? Worst of all! That news would travel fast. In no time there would be throngs of blind and injured and diseased tracking my every move (and it’s not as easy to jump across the nearest sea when you are carrying a smart phone). Admit it, self: you don’t have the strength for any of this. Not to overlook the glaringly obvious truth that the only reason i want to do ANY of this is because, if i’m honest, i have to admit i have a huge, honking, giant, fat, bloated ego. i wish i could say it is because i just love Christ that much, but that would be a lie. i do love Him, of course, but that wouldn’t be my primary motivation. Most of the time i still love myself just a little more.
Probably a good thing i am not called to those things then.
Not yet, at least. Someday, who knows?
We all remember Stephen as the first martyr (second, really. Jesus was obviously the first). But his martyrdom is not the first mention of him in Acts:
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said,“It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
Acts 6 : 1 – 5
Stephen wasn’t chosen to be a martyr. They didn’t ask for men to volunteer to go out and be stoned to death. They chose Him to oversee food distribution. Such a tiny thing, seemingly, but obviously he didn’t seem to mind. Part of his growth as a believer, part of what made him the man that was able to face death for his Savior, was his willingness to do whatever was immediately in front of him for the sake of the gospel. The apostles were able to preach and teach because men like Stephen were willing in the Spirit to serve in more “menial” capacities.
i need to be much more willing to look for the things that God has already stuck in my face, the ways He has already called me to serve. Again, no matter how “small” they are.
We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love. – Mother Theresa