I lamented to a friend that my small circle within the evangelical community make so few real sacrifices, invest so little in kingdom work considering all with which we have been blessed. "We talk about truth and commitment and how we should engage and respond to the world around us, but then we just continue living our comfortable, safe lives and don't do anything," I protested. I was feeling frustrated - with myself and with those around me.
My friend called me up short. "You are using the wrong pronoun," she responded. "You keep saying we, but you should be using the word I."
God has given me opportunities to serve, love, minister, live sacrificially - right where I am. Do I act on those opportunities? Or do I miss them because I'm whining that God hasn't sent me to help flood victims in Indonesia or AIDS patients in Uganda?
Do I appreciate and thank God for the opportunity to serve "on the front lines" in the hills of rural, Northwest Tennessee - or do I make light of this this opportunity because it seems so safe, so tame?
Even worse, do I look at the sisters and brothers living near me and regard their service and faithfulness in this same skewed way?
The morning after the above conversation, I was reading in Zechariah. Here are a few excerpts of what I read:
For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice... - Zechariah 4:10a
My Bible footnote for this verse reads: "It would have been easy to be discouraged with the meager results and progress. We find the people of Judah discouraged at the laying of the foundation of the second temple (Ezra 3:10-12) and also at the rebuilding in Haggai's day (Hag. 2:3). The question in this verse reminds us not to judge God's work by human standards."
A footnote at the conclusion of Chapter 4 states: "The total vision teaches both that God is the source of strength for doing His work and that He bestows His Spirit upon His chosen people for the work He has called them to do."
Funny that, in my read-through-the-Bible journey, I happened to be in Zechariah that particular morning. Funny, too, that I happened to read the footnotes - I usually don't.
My opportunities, my service, my part in the grand scheme of Kingdom work...these feel to me like very small things. But they are not to be judged by human standards.
I am convicted of my narrow vision and small understanding. Father, forgive me!
And I am greatly encouraged. Thank you, Father, for the work you have given me to do and for the strength you supply in this place and time.
I stand rejoicing, amazed at the goodness and sweetness and gentleness of the God who speaks into my life (with surgical precision!) from the pages of His written Word.
1 month ago