In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can it still be God if it's not something exciting and "big"?

Our pastor is a wonderful guy. I'm super grateful for him and am blessed by his preaching. But recently he's said a few things about which I was uncomfortable. I probably mistook what he was saying, but the things I most likely misunderstood have got me to thinking (so perhaps my uncomfortableness is a good thing anyway).

One of these was that the pastor had shared a video clip of a brother in Christ from one of our campuses down the hill. This campus is a large church and the brother emanated a sweet spirit as he shared his testimony. Afterward the pastor talked about some of the exciting ways God was using this brother; how he'd started a small group in his home with just a very few people and how God had grown his numbers to over 40. It was a blessing to hear how God's working in this man's life. The pastor then talked about how we need small groups in our local church.

I felt surprised because I know of 5 small groups currently; one of which I facilitate in my own home. My group started small, and now around 1 1/2 years later, is still small. I've both thought and prayed quite a bit since then. Am I somehow missing something? Should I take myself out of the small group venue since I'm not seeing a large increase in people? Is there something I'm doing wrong? Am I not yielded to God's work? Am I in some kind of sin? Am I just an unlikeable dork?

Repeatedly I've sensed the same truth - I'm right where God wants me to be.

God isn't looking for me to be self preoccupied with sin. Daily I come before Him as the Psalmist did in Psalm 139:23-24 and ask God to search me and show me if I have anything in me that's unpleasing to Him. Then I confess my sin, accept His forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and look to His power to help me change (Philippians 4:13).

As I'm thinking about this, I'm reminded of 3 passages that I adore how Peterson in The Message paraphrases. One of these passages is Matthew 16:24:
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

The other passages is Matthew 6:30:
"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

There's also Philippians 2:12-13:
What I'm getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I'm separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

As it is with scripture, there's a lot you can take from these passages. The truth they all underscore for me today is that our part in God's work is to be obedient to do that which He calls us to, His part is the results. So if the results are big and exciting, then God be praised. If the results are rather "ordinary", then God be praised.

As in the example of the small group that meets in my home. It's been small but I know that each woman in the group has received a level of intimacy and connection that I fail to see possible in a large group of people. During our time together the participants in this group have gone through, just to name a few, the following: two have lost jobs that were careers that they had invested years into, one had to short sell a house, one had a brother who almost died several times during heart problems and the ensuing operations and difficult recovery, one met, dated, became engaged and got married. My point being that major stuff has happened in the lives of all of us and God chose to bless us with the presence of one another to go through it together. I'm so grateful.

Sometimes I think it's the "ordinary" that life is really all about. The ordinary is where most of us live. Day to day life, for most of us, is somewhat repetitive and not always exciting. On my list of all time favorite books is Practice of the Presence of God by brother Lawrence. Lawrence is a monk who worked in the kitchen (any of us who cook and wash dishes know how monotonous that can be at times), and a man who wanted to be in God's will and presence all the time.

This doesn't mean that I want to limit God in the other way either. Obviously God does do "big" and "great" things, the miraculous still does occur. God heals people, He reveals things to His people that they could not naturally know, He provides divine direction, He brings the ones to Him who seem like they'd for sure never seek Him - sometimes in droves, and sometimes in a trickle. What I'm trying to say is that while God works in the exciting and miraculous, He also works in the ordinary and small.

When it's all said and done, I just want to be obedient to where I feel He's leading me.

What about you, do you ever feel like there's an over emphasis on the "big" ministry being the only valid ministry? Do you ever struggle to maintain your expectancy and connection with God in the midst of the ordinary monotony of daily living?


RCUBEs said...

What a great issue you brought up sister Tracy! But I want to thank you first for your prayers for me. Feeling much better here than few weeks ago when I hurt something [muscle] perhaps.

This morning, in my time with the Lord, the thought of us being so overwhelmed with His grace, sometimes makes us forget to seek His ways and truth. So that was my prayer...For Him to lead me in His truth!

Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to serving Christ. But followers must be careful that the very thing they are involved in do not become their own idols. The bottom line is...whatever we do, we should ask ourselves if they help our witnessing for Christ? Do they point to the Lord?

You have me thinking here....To God be the glory always and may His truth prevail in all the things His children do! Take care sister Tracy. You always make me ponder :) God bless.

David-FireAndGrace said...

Big is a myth!

Romans 8:28 says that God uses all things - our job, love Him.

The body of Christ needs both big and small groups. It needs a diversity of gifting Romans 12, 1 Cor 12, and Eph 4. And it needs love 1 Cor 13.

Some ministries grow and others seem to maintain. Some even fail. It is takes a blend of personality, God's timing, and prayer. If you only have one, you'll soon run in to trouble.

I have spent 4 years trying to get things to go here. Nothing has worked out, and I spend one service in a new church, and God opens that doors for to be on staff, and I a running a school this winter.

If you are being obedient, then you are doing very well. There are a lot of folks that like nickels and noses and miss God altogether.

Michelle said...

I am just the opposite of thinking BIG is significant. I've always thought...where the crowd's probably not very godly. I tend to lean towards the thinking that the majority is against God and "that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God." God did, however, change my thinking on this when I read some biographical stuff on Spurgeon and I realized the large groups of people he preached to weekly and sometimes daily. This guy was comparable to Olsteen (which I am not fond of at all BTW.) Either way...he's in both. For me personally, I believe growth would be in the smaller groups. It's where we can be personal with each other and minister to each other's needs whatever they may be.

John Cowart said...

Hi Tracy,

You spoke to my need here.

A sense of failure overwhelms me when I consider how much effort I have put into my writing and then see my books disappear without a ripple. I feel that if I were truly following Christ, then it stands to reason I would be successful. So, I wonder if God doesn't even like me.

Oh well, one of the prophets, I forget which one, says, "despise not the day of small things"

Must have been one of the minor prophets.

But, Jesus is Lord--even of the ordinary.

Being Me said...

I too feel that I am right where I should be .. after all the waiting and worrying.
Nothing is too big or too small for God, there is a purpose in all things after all ....

For those who have faith (little or much)I believe sometimes we are led and sometimes we follow but we don't always realize it until we find ourselves in the right place.
Bless you Tracy.


~*Michelle*~ said...

remember this;

"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
~Mother Teresa

Great post, my friend!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Your home group is small because God wants it so. It is His group not yours anyway.

It is possible that one or more people in this small group finds it comfortable it is so; and they would probably leave if it grew any larger.

You take care of the prayers. God will take care of the numbers.

God bless.

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