Been pondering some things about my life lately (I know, me analyzing things? Crazy, huh?)
I am fairly certain I wasn’t much of a thinker in my early twenties. (I’m not sure, because, well, I wasn’t paying attention.) Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t dumb or anything. I was just busy trying out those new grownup shoes. I had fun. Lots of it. I tromped all over in my grownup shoes. It was fun to have our own apartment. It was fun going to Walmart at 2 a.m. It was fun exploring the countryside on afternoon Saturday drives. Anywhere I went in those shoes was new, and exciting.
I don’t regret a minute of it. It was a great way to start off adulthood. There’s a time for all things.
But as I got older, and started having kids and all the responsibilities that come along with them, I had to learn about prioritizing. And I haven’t stopped since.
I think that’s what being an adult comes down to. Making sometimes hard choices about what’s important, and what’s not, and what’s in between. That list is constantly shifting for me. Some things go up on the list, then drop back down. Some things disappear completely. Sometimes, totally new and unexpected things suddenly become very important. Juggling that everchanging list is a skill we must perfect, and let me tell you if don’t know already and you’re still enjoying the newness of your grownup shoes- It ain’t easy. But if you don’t know what matters in life, what deserves (and needs) your time and attention, then you’re missing the whole point. You are adrift.
So, to my ponderings. What’s important to me at this time in my life is a no brainer. It’s my kids. I absolutely must keep them at the top of my priority list. And while it might be a natural instinct to protect and nurture your offspring, it is also a natural instinct to sin. So I don’t always get it right. Oh, don’t worry- this is a not a beat-myself-up post. It’s just a matter of fact. I try, and God is gracious with our attempts, no matter how far short they fall sometimes.
Anyway, because that is my top priority, my calling in life, and it is a HUGE one, it’s very easy to make this mistake: I think, because I am fulfilling this most important task set before me, that that is it. My contribution to the world at large. My plate is full, so I am content to concentrate solely on what’s right there in front of me.
And, I think I’m not seeing the whole picture. Because, God doesn’t stop at commanding us to raise a holy family. He says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Who do you think he was talking to? Just young, single, unattached people? No! Was he talking only to pastors? Seminary students? Bilingual foks? No. He was talking to you. And me. Parents. Teachers. Golf club makers. Sushi chefs. Grandparents. Retired people. Folks with no hands, no feet. People with every reason to stay right where they are. And good reasons at that. But there are no exclusions in this verse. No, “everybody except stay-at-home-moms” or “only if you can afford to take your vacationtime for that mission trip”, or “unless you drop a dollar in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas”.
So, obviously, we are supposed to be doing something. It’s undeniable. We sense it, innately, as Christians. But as parents, there is a temptation to say, well, my children are my mission. I am pursuing God’s work right here. Look at ’em- see, they can already recite the Lord’s Prayer! I think God must chuckle a little, and say, “well, duh.”
This is about more.
This is about examining yourself, your circumstances, your talents, your abilities, and finding where God wants to direct those things, outside of your home. Away. Over there. That’s the “go” part. See, doesn’t it seem obvious? I mean, intellectually, I understand the meaning of that scripture. But somehow for me, for a long time, it’s translated as “sit here and read Scripture to your child”. But He covered that elsewhere in the Bible, didn’t He? We already know we’re supposed to be doing that. This is in addition. It’s like- eat, but drink, too. Both are vital, independant of each other. Both ensure health and strength. The absence of either will eventually cripple us.
There are people in my life who do this. People who have missions. God opened my eyes to this recently, like a lightbulb going off. I want to tell you about them, and maybe it will encourage you. I have a friend who is “the visitor”. Her ministry, her talent, is in friendship. She keeps up with people- it is a purposeful, time-consuming effort, to connect almost weekly with everyone she has befriended. She listens, and shares, and has lightened my life with just BEING there. I can’t tell you how her friendship has ministered to me.
Another friend is “the mailer”. Not a week goes by that she hasn’t popped an old magazine in the post for me, or a quick note with picture of us, or a birthday card, or just any little thing she can think of. I suspect she has a rotation list for her mailings, certain days she mails to certain people. However she does it, it’s not some random moment of kindness. This is a mission. She makes it a priority, she’s organized, intentful. This small act says, “I’m thinking about you. I love you.” What a beautiful reflection of the God she loves and serves.
I could go on and on- listing people I know who have found a calling, answered a need. I could tell you of the people who determine to be good neighbors, those who visit EVERY SINGLE SICK PERSON they know in the hospital. I could tell you of those who teach the Sunday school class nobody else wants. Those who drive the bookmobiles, who send flowers at funerals without fail. Who sing at nursing homes, or organize food for new moms recouping at home. They do what they’re good at, and they do it in His name. They don’t wait to be asked or told. They’re intentful, eager, not only making themselves available to be used by God, but searching out opportunities, too. They find a way to create a signpost with their actions that points back to God. Oh, that that would be said of me. How can that not be one of the most important things in life? How can that not be at the top of my list?
I’ve let these dear, wonderful missionaries in my life do those things, not thinking for a long time that, hey, I’m supposed to be doing something, too! I have talents, skills, and yes, even spare time, that God wants to be using.
I can’t go to Africa. I can’t leave my family and walk the mission field. That’s not the path for me. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have a path. I do. But it takes putting a foot out, taking a step. Movement, action. I can use what God has given me to meet needs right here. He’s equipped me with exactly what I need, and put me exactly where I am, so that I, too, can “go.” There is a mission for me, should I choose to accept it, and it’s not impossible. (sorry. couldn’t resist.) I can further His kingdom, right here in my own corner of it. As you can, right where you are, no matter where that is.
I’m going to be praying that He opens my eyes to a place that I can minister in His name. I hope you will be, too. I think we’ll be surprised at how quickly He’ll answer that prayer.
I am excited to see what God will do.