Saturday, February 23, 2013

Doing "Big" Things for God

As Americans we are taught from the time we are born to dream big. We are told we can accomplish anything and not to sell ourselves short. This desire to do big things often carries over into our walk with God. As followers of Jesus we want to actively serve God (which is a good thing!), and for many of us, we want to have a significant impact on the world for the kingdom of God.  Baptist missionary to India, William Carey, urged others to go and share the good news of Jesus in a sermon in 1792 with the famous words, "Expect great from God and attempt great things for God".

I'm a "doer" as I've shared before and for as long as I can remember I have been involved in ministry through my church. While there are hardships that come with a life called to overseas missionary service, after spending two years in Africa, I learned there is a lot of excitement, adventure, and prestige associated with being a missionary. Some people are scared to death God might call them to leave their comforts, go live in a grass hut, and tell people about Jesus. My husband and I are scared of NOT going overseas! We loved living in another cultural context and working full-time to build relationships with people sharing the hope of Jesus. And honestly, I enjoyed the fulfillment I received from doing something worthwhile, something that felt "big", to the kingdom of God (though in reality it was actually something very small).

Unfortunately now I am the recipient of ministry more than I am the one ministering, and this is not easy to swallow. In the world of chronic pain, much of my energy is sadly focused on managing my pain and taking care of my family as best I can. Many days I feel I don't attempt anything for God, let alone something big. Sometimes I feel like if I could just see something significant for the kingdom of God come about in our family because of my pain, then I would be able to handle the suffering it has brought better.

Recently I was reading in Charles Spurgeon's Faith's Checkbook as he commented on Psalm 115:13, "He will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great." Spurgeon said:
Our God has a very gracious consideration for those of small property, small talent, small influence, small weight. God careth for the small things in creation and even regards sparrows in their lighting upon the ground. Nothing is small to God, for he makes use of insignificant agents for the accomplishment of His purposes. Let the least among men seek of God a blessing upon his littleness, and he shall find his contracted sphere to be a happy one. (February 21 entry)
The truth is, none of us do can anything big for God in our own strength, but by His grace God uses us, as insignificant as we are, to accomplish His purposes. What seems insignificant to us, may be what God uses to impact His kingdom greatly.

Though I may not be able to go overseas and share the good news of Jesus because of a weak body, I can pray for earnestly for missionaries and for the needs of those living around me. I may not be able to feed the poor, but I can encourage and pray for those who do. I may not be able to lead ministries in my church, but I can send notes with scripture to those hurting in my church and community. These things feel small in comparison to what my healthy body used to do, but the same God who watches the sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31) knows me and my limitations. In fact He ordained my weakness just as He gave me the strength to live in Africa as a missionary. Oh, that I may happily serve God in my "contracted sphere" for His glory, not my conceited fulfillment of accomplishing something "big".


  1. the prayers, letters, blog posts, and care for your family may feel like tiny things, but we have a big God who delights in using small, weak things to do big powerful works. We had a missions conference this weekend and over and over stories were told of small, tiny little seeds that were sown by someone that we would never think would amount to anything, yet God used them grow something huge! it sounds like to me you are storing up for yourself treasures in heaven instead of temporal recognition on this earth. it will be amazing one day in heaven for you to get see all of the ways that God has used your pain and your seemly small acts to do amazing things for His kingdom.

  2. Thanks for your encouragement Carlyn!