Published on June 9th, 2009 | by Alex and Brett Harris
When Bigger Isn’t Better
Amy Carmichael began her mission work at seventeen among the poor neighborhood girls. Christina DeMari moved to the Philippines at nineteen, where she worked for several years to spread the gospel to the most remote parts of the land.
These women, and countless others like them, are so inspiring. Yet when I read about them, I become discontent with my own life. I’m a senior in high school, I have a preschool-aged sister, and my mother has some health issues which means I spend a lot of time helping at home. I’m kinda limited in opportunities to do those grand things, much as I desperately long to. I want to be used, I want to make a difference, I want to do all these great things for God.
And then I realized that I’m still thinking that grace, salvation, and love is earned. After all, ministering to hundreds in some poor, remote country surely counts for more than playing tag with my little sister, doesn’t it? I want to do the “big things” while overlooking the “little things” that I have been given to do. I seem to think that if I do something great and wonderful like that, then God will be more pleased with me, He’ll love me more, or I’ll be more worthy of His love.
That’s a crippling mindset! And during my devotions today, I realized something: What was Jesus doing for thirty years before He began His ministry? We’re told that he grew and matured, and that he was simply living in Nazareth. That’s it. There is no record of what He did, which probably means we wouldn’t consider His actions particularly noteworthy. He lived obediently, He grew and studied and learned the Scriptures, He took care of His family, and I’m sure He applied Himself to become the best carpenter He could be.
If Jesus was pleasing God by spending thirty years of His life doing nothing particularly earth-shattering, but simply serving those around Him and learning and growing, who am I to look down on that kind of life? He spent ten times as many years living that kind of simple life as He did in public ministry. God does not require the same things at the same time from everyone. And while I am never to stop looking for ways to serve and love, He is not asking me right now to do something I would consider “big”. He didn’t love Amy Carmichael any more than He loved the criminal who turned to Him on the cross. And He can’t love me more if I’m doing something else than He does as I’m trying to study, learn, and serve.
All He wants me to do is love Him. He asks me to be faithful in what He’s given me, no matter how pointless or insignificant it may seem. I am just to do as He asks and not fret because I want someone else’s portion instead.
Of course, just to make it abundantly clear: I’m certainly not saying to avoid great opportunities, or avoid stepping out in faith to do things even with your limitations. For me, right now, these kinds of amazing international things just aren’t happening. Thus, He has been teaching me that there is no shame in living the quieter life; no shame in blooming where He’s planted me.