What You Have to Do for God isn’t so Great

Many times we Christians set each other up for disappointment. The primary response to the announcement of our move was:

“That’s so exciting! I know God is going to use you in a great way! You have big things ahead!”

{Ok, one person did tell us that we were being irresponsible and flippant about moving with our four kids and no immediate provision, but they were probably PMSing, and not a good Christian.}

Purging our stuff, packing up boxes and driving north, we were ready and willing for the “great” and “big” stuff to find us! Visions of what was ahead of us clouded our minds and filtered our conversations.

“Here we are God! Send us! Blow us away with what we’ll do for you! We’re ready for anything!”

Six weeks later, I’m staying home with the kids and Josh is working for our friend’s home remodeling company {thank you God for provision}.

Not quite the “mighty” we were expecting. In fact, we had one person ask us flat-out, “Why couldn’t you do that in California?”

I floundered for an answer, and all I could come up with was, “God said move.”

Have you ever noticed that when people envision going back in time they’re always a queen or a knight or a gentleman? No one thinks they’re a serf.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all bitter at God for transporting our family from the southwest US to the northwest. We have reunited with friends and reconnected with family. We’re exactly where God has called us to be.

And, it has only been six weeks, that’s a nanosecond to God. I’m not willing to reduce myself to an “are we there yet” toddler; pestering Him for a turn-by-turn breakdown of our journey. When I need to know something, He’ll let me know. God is not a GPS suction-cupped to my forehead.

::

Why do we say that? Is it because we’re afraid for the person, and want to build them up? Could it be because we still hold on to the picture of success that is force-fed us by our culture? I wish I knew, because I’m completely guilty of it myself.

What if what we have to do isn’t so great? 

Jesus spent His time doing not so great things, by the world’s standards. I know I’ve talked about this recently, but it’s the primary theme running through my brain right now.

He hung out with the dregs of society. He didn’t set up a non-profit organization, or intentionally build a platform. He just traveled around having encounters with those the Holy Spirit led Him to.

In the market place, while waiting for His meal, and just walking down the road. His focus was the relational, not the remarkable. In fact, He even cautioned people to keep secret the things He did for them.

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As a do-er, I like to focus on the action; tackling the task at hand to achieve the goal. Maybe the purpose of the words “sacrifice” and “abide” in my life this year are to show me that I need to sacrifice my desire to take action, and rather to allow the Spirit of God to abide in me and change my heart.

Forgiveness is a heart issue.

Grace is a heart issue.

Love is a heart issue.

Hope is a heart issue.

Once we allow the Spirit to work in our lives to purify and cleanse our heart, our actions follow. Forgiveness is easy, because we love others. Grace for others flows naturally out of the abundance of our heart. Love for neighbors, enemies, others aligns with Paul’s outline to the Corinthians, because it’s God’s love. Hope is simple because the unseen is seen through His eyes.

The “great,” “might,” “big” things that God has to do might not be through us, but in us.

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20 Comments

  1. What a fantastic post Melissa! This shows your heart. I can remember years ago seeing an early Christian movie (the name escapes me now) of a guy who gave himself in service to God and dreamed of big things. Preaching like Billy Graham. Being a missionary of a successful mission. When it was almost over, he realized that God had placed his “greatness” right in front of his nose all the time. I am a firm believer in open doors when God opens it. You will know and it will be a “natural” thing to walk on through. Prepare your hearts for what He has planned-be it big or small. Praying for you.,

    1. Melissa says:

      Years ago God showed me that it’s the simple act of obedience that is required of me; to walk the path He’s laid out and focus simply on what the next step is. Sometimes I forget, but He’s patient and continues to lead me. Thanks for the prayers, Bill!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Melissa, I so appreciate your truth here, as I so often find my pride distorting God’s beautiful gifts–and blinding me to His face. What a powerful model you are of faith: going where He has called you, despite lack of encouragement by the world. What He has for us is always good, always an adventure! And it likely will not be glamorous. I pray for eyes and heart to see that more. Thank you!

    1. Melissa says:

      “What He has for us is always good, always an adventure!”

      Amen! I too pray for eyes and heart to see that. The heart of the matter is that His will is best, even when we don’t understand. :) Thanks, Jennifer!

  3. I am so ministered by what you shared and it is a perfect reminder for this season I am finally learning to enjoy and rest in. I know God has been teaching me for a couple years now about doing the “small” things. And isn’t everything in this world backwards? The first shall be last…the foolish confound the wise…the humble are lifted up… When a series of events orchestrated and allowed by God led me to be a stay at home mom, God called me to do the BIG, MIGHTY thing (for me)….I just didn’t realize it in the beginning. And now I see, understand and know that EVERYTHING we do for or in the name of God is BIG and MIGHTY. Everything small is big. Often I say, “God is going to use you in such a big way!” – because it’s true. We may never see the fruit of our labor, but the tiny mustard seeds we plant move mighty mountains. We may not see change around us, but you are so right, the biggest change is in our own hearts. These past couple of years I’ve struggled to settle into the rhythm of being home, but I have learned so much about doing the small, unseen things, and they are big and mighty, indeed!

    1. Melissa says:

      First of all, Hi! I feel like it’s been months since I connected with you! I’ve missed that!

      Secondly, your story and your obedience to forsake your own dreams to follow God’s plan for your life is such an inspiration to me. You’re right, it is true to say God is going to use people in big ways…it’s just the definition of big that we need to pinpoint. :) Big for God is not the same as big for the world.

  4. Levi Martin says:

    For me, this lesson has been one of redefining “greatness.” As you point out in your conclusion, “Love for neighbors, enemies, others aligns with Paul’s outline to the Corinthians, because it’s God’s love.” The “great” “mighty” and “big” things are not great, mighty and big because of any measure I attribute to them, rather they are significant because of their association with God. Because of who God is, everything He does is in keeping with His good and perfect purposes to work redemption and reconciliation in this world.

    The trap for me has always been the shape and form of my expectations. The promised Messiah was born in a manger, the Son of David did not overthrow Rome but was executed in Roman fashion. Do I believe God’s version of greatness or do I cling to my own? And for me, the hardest part of accepting God’s definition is when it includes, say, the intertestamental period or the dark-ages or even just a period of personal “desolation.” Do I believe God is still advancing His kingdom and bringing salvation when I see nothing at all…

    p.s. I am sooooo bummed about yesterday. Hopefully we can snag another opportunity soon to head up for some quality time. I feel an acute need for some time just hang out with you and Josh and share in life together. Love you guys!

    1. Keri says:

      Levi…I really enjoy reading your comments. When are you gonna start your own blog!? ;)

      1. Melissa says:

        Yay! I concur!

    2. Melissa says:

      You hit the nail on the head by bringing up that word: expectations. We expect that when we make sacrifices for God or obey Him that we’ll be rewarded. We have our own idea of what that reward is. Usually we’re wrong. And, what’s been interesting over the past few months is that even though I feel very much in the dark about what God has ahead of us, I am 100% confident that He is working and advancement is occurring; even if it’s only within my own being.

      And…this comment makes me even sadder that we didn’t get to hang out. Josh and I need to come down and spend the day with you guys, sans kids. I always appreciate your perspective and opinion, Levi! Tell Christy I said hi!

  5. Janelle says:

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with God about, oh, ten years ago. I had been praying for my “calling”, really earnestly seeking whatever it was He wanted me to be doing, because I didn’t feel like I was doing much. Finally I got one answer, once. I was sitting in church, worshiping and praying, and He said, “Do what I have put in front of you.” I was like, “What? What is it?” No answer. Finally, frustrated, I opened my eyes and looked down. At Corbin, in my lap. And He said, “That.” All this time, the answer has never changed. I get nudges in the right direction, but the main answer to the Big Question is always to keep looking homeward. But you know something? It has helped me immensely, when I feel like my life is going nowhere, to have that knowledge that it’s not my job that’s important, but the people I am helping to create and shape at home. I don’t know what God ultimately has in mind for you and Josh, but just remember that having kids is a ministry on its own, and don’t undervalue it.

    1. Melissa says:

      I love this, because it’s such a powerful truth that is so often forgotten. I do believe that God has specific callings and purposes for people at different times in their life, but I also believe that we too easily forget that the simple act of living a life for Him advances His kingdom on earth. Through our relationships, jobs, hobbies, interactions we are a continual witness to Him. And, as parents we are the main model of Christian living for our children. You’re right, the job is not important. Thanks, Nelly!

  6. Jason Wert says:

    I know what you’re feeling entirely too well, Melissa. I’m sorry that I was one of the folks blowing smoke up your skirt that you would find “great” things waiting for you back there. You would think I would have learned that lesson by now.

    I’m discovering too that God doesn’t want to do great things through all of us. And I’m not going to buy into the “everything you do for God is great” routine that most Christians sell each other. I think we do that because we know if we keep saying “you’re going to just be a lowly peon for God until you die” most people wouldn’t sign up for a walk with God because we don’t like knowing we’re not going to be anything more than what we are right now.

    I’m starting to come to grips with the fact that while God’s given me gifts and abilities He’s most likely not going to use them in some kind of “ministry” way. To be honest, it completely deflates me to know that. For so long, I really felt like if I wasn’t doing something for Him then it wasn’t worth doing. When I started Mustard Seed Year, I honestly thought He would do something through me. Now, I’m beginning to realize this year’s been nothing but another excuse for Him to beat the crap out of me. Humbling me over and over. Taking my job. Taking my friends away. Take away the place I love to live. Take, take, take, take, take. It’s a pride issue, I know. We should all be happy no matter what God does with us but I’m not. It makes it hard to just get through the day.

    1. Melissa says:

      Jason, you’re wrong. :) I say that with a smile on my face, because God has done something through you. The simple fact that you committed this year to God, for Him to do what He would, is inspirational. I know that you don’t want to hear that you’re inspirational when you’ve made sacrifices and have seen no tangible reward, but our reward and success lies in heaven. No, none of us want to hear that we may spend our lives following God, hoping in Him and die without seeing the fruits of our labor…but there is a whole list of people in Hebrews that had that for their story. Whether you realize it or not, God has done much in and through you this year, and that was something I thought of as I wrote this post. God is doing great things IN you; refining and shaping you. Don’t give up on what you’ve begun, and know that I am continuing to pray for you as you follow Him.

  7. Keri says:

    What I’m realizing is that so often I expect that the greatness hinges on my making the right choice or doing the right thing, choosing one path over another. As Ps. Steve so often says, God doesn’t micromanage our lives. He can make His plans come to fruition no matter how much I screw it up. He will still do a great work IN me. But, I need to stop pressuring {deluding} myself into thinking that God’s plans depend on my doing the right thing. That if I don’t “be Jesus” to the grocery store clerk, she’ll lose out on the only chance she ever had to know Christ. While I should still be conscious of ways I can share Christ with others, their eternal salvation doesn’t hinge on what I do or don’t do, what say or don’t say, but on His work in them. That’s thinking way too highly of myself. And, that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from the work of the Great Commission. It means that He authors the work, not me. I really hope this makes sense, because it does in my head. I’m still working out what this all means practically in my life.

    1. Melissa says:

      This makes so much sense. My delusions of grandeur can cause me to believe that every step of the journey needs to be agonized over. I was talking to my friend about this last night. She said that God made us logical and gave us the ability to think and act; simply living our life for Him is a huge testimony. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this, Keri. :)

  8. It’s hard on those who love us even if there’s just the perception of suffering. Then you have others who lash out more because they resent that you’ve stepped out where they’ve been too afraid to take a step. I know I can’t fully figure people out so I’ll concentrate on listening to Him and obeying with my whole heart. Powerful truth in this, Melissa. Thanks.

  9. Mmmmm great thought Melissa! I so resonate with you when you talk about people asking why you did it? You simply had to reply- Because God said move! My hubby and I feel the same these days :) Thanks for sharing your heart!

  10. Melissa… I just want you and Josh to know that you guys already do great things for God. You raise 4 beautiful children and you love on people. Truly what is greater than those two things. I believe that God is going to continue to do great things with you because that is exactly what He is doing with you right now because you guys are you. You are doing great things in Washington and you were doing great things in Brea and in California. Continue to listen to His guiding and His teaching. Being you in Him will allow you to continue doing Great thing for Him.
    I love you guys!!

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