Lately, I have been reading a popular book that challenges believers to really invest their lives in great causes and in foreign missions and to make a difference in the world.
But, it has stimulated a different line of thinking in me, totally opposite of what I have been reading.
Western Christianity seems to point us to doing a great deed, making a great sacrifice or performing something great in the public eye. Perhaps it is one way of serving. But I believe in my heart that it is the quiet deeds of faith, the steadfast heart, the humble service over the years of a lifetime that is really pleasing to our Jesus, who Himself said He was humble and meek and to learn from Him. Most will serve Him, in the unobserved moment by moment willingness to bear the burdens of life in a fallen world, perhaps never receiving accolades from the public arena. Yet, God, who sees in secret, will indeed see their deeds of loving faithfulness when no one else is looking.
He sees us. He loves us and measures each tiny faithful decision in his hands as an act glorifying Him in our short time on this earth. These little acts of love and faith make up the whole sacrifice of our life that becomes an offering to Him.
Yet, I think that my life has been made up of thousands of little moments, seemingly insignificant to the public eye. Changing one more diaper. Listening to the heart's cry of one more teenager. Encouraging Clay through one more year of financial crisis. Living through one more season of faith when my life has felt overwhelming.
Have you ever felt like the woman in this print? Seems I have often felt so very overwhelmed in this journey of my life. Feelings of isolation and loneliness have been aching companions at different times--feeling that I don't fit with many people. Feeling lost in the storms of life.
Other times, the burdens of all of my children and trying to keep them afloat while feeling that the weight of their lives was drowning me--illnesses, personalities and disorders, meeting their needs, answering their spiritual demands, bearing with them through very difficult seasons (sleepless nights of babyhood; mysterious years of toddlerhood--when to discipline, when not, all the trials and joys of elementary, teenage storms, and young adult decisions and pressures). Sometimes, it just feels like it never ends.
Family issues, church issues and people, work load, and just plain exhaustion. Prayers unanswered, and so much more.
Sometimes the years of my life and my high ideals have demanded so much of me, I felt that I should not write about my ideals, because I did not want anyone else to experience all of the hard realities and difficulties I have had to live through. (Can I really suggest to women this course of life when I know it is so very difficult to sustain? It is long and arduous? The demands can seem sometimes never ending?)
Perhaps I am just more of a wimp than most moms, and was less prepared and had a weaker character than most moms and that is why I have struggled so at times.
Yet, somewhere, deep inside, God gave me a tenaciousness to keep going--through the storms, to keep trusting Him, to keep believing Him, that He is good, even when I don't feel His presence.
I am so very thankful He kept me going. My marriage is still intact and growing. My children, at this moment, still love the Lord and us and are all growing, (but always with issues), and I have a legacy of looking back and seeing that He was working which gives me the hope to believe that He is still working.
Lately, I have been feeling the new burden of storms in my life and the weight of so much responsibility. It is always a temptation to give up or to despair when we are in darkness of some kind. Yet, believing in the midst of the darkness and choosing to worship and to love Him and praise Him, by our wills and not our feelings may be the biggest treasure in heaven that we will give to Him--faithfulness when no one is watching; faith in Him when it seems He has disappeared. Faithfulness to serve one more child, who is too immature to appreciate your sacrifice. Making one more meal and washing one more set of dishes to a family who seems always to be hungry and always depending on you for everything.
Integrity in these seemingly insignificant moments will become the measure of integrity over a life-time, and will build a picture of faithfulness for all to see when they go through their own hard times. "Oh, I remember mom kept going. She kept loving. She kept believing. I guess I can, too. Her story is my foundation for encouragement."
And so today, as I recognize the many seemingly too heavy a burden that loved ones and friends are sharing, I pray that they, and I, will remember that this day, is one day closer to His coming again. This spirit of overcoming and enduring which bubbles up in our hearts from the Holy Spirit living there, becomes a song of praise in heaven where angels are cheering us on.
Jesus said, "In this world, you will have tribulation." But He admonished his loved ones, "But take courage. I have overcome the world."
And so, may we cherish anew, the message of our resurrection Lord, that we celebrated yesterday and remember His power to overcome any force. Moment by moment, day by day, let us take hold of our hearts' attitudes that will give us hope, strength, courage and faith to proclaim His reality this day. May we know that as a good Father who cherishes and encourages His beloved children, He will one day say, "Well done. Well done, my beloved child."
So, it is not just accomplishing grand feats of sacrifice one time or accomplishing something great in the world's eyes, that will bring ultimate glory to this world of ours.
But it is the faithful, serving and pouring out ourselves into those in our daily lives, where hearts will be changed and characters will be formed, to bring His righteousness to bear in our world. No deed of faith or love is too small. It adds up to a life well-lived and pleasing to him.