accomplishments ambition

Choose the Road of Small Things

11:42 AMHeather

I admit it. I often give into the belief that my life's contributions hold little value if they are not big and bold and noteworthy. 

I fall for the lie that unless I give it all away and move to Africa, then I'm not REALLY making a big difference. If I don't have a NY Times bestseller book, then I'm not really an author. If my art is not hanging in a museum, then it's not really important. If my kids aren't National Merit Scholars and amazing athletes and starting foundations to build wells in third world countries, then maybe they are falling behind.

Like never before, we are living in an age that entices us to believe that our lives should be full of headline worthy accomplishments. 

But it's not true. The most remarkable lives are not actually those with long lists of awards and legendary fame. 

And because I need this reminder, I share it with you, as well.

The most impressive and daring lives are those spent day-after-day doing the small things with enduring faithfulness. Lives hidden in the shadows, pouring out their time and energy and talents in the tedious and mundane that may never be seen. Caring for aging parents with dementia. Holding fussy and inconsolable babies. Raising strong willed toddlers. Praying repeatedly for teenage children and husbands and friends.

We must greatly celebrate the idea of finding complete fulfillment in doing ordinary things and living normal lives with grace and joy, all for the love of a Great Savior.   

This is the heartbeat of Melanie Shankle's new book Church of the Small Things. And I cannot quit thinking about her stories of the little things that made big impacts. In timely fashion, I read this book just after I was challenged to be satisfied living an ordinary life for the glory of an extraordinary God.

Perhaps you've heard of or read the Biblical account of when Jesus fed the 5,000 people who had come to hear him teach. The first chapter of Melanie's book summons us to consider the mom who packed the little boy's lunch of five fishes and two loaves of bread.

What about her? She gets no mention in the story, although she played a key role.

It was that mom's simple, common everyday (and often dreaded) task that was used in the hands of the Almighty God to feed an entire multitude of people.

Where the world likes to spotlight the miraculous and fantastical occurrences, through her enduring wit, Melanie chooses to shine the light onto the tiny, daily acts of obedience that make up a live well-lived.

Here, in this idea of choosing the road of small things, day-after-day, I find freedom.  I find freedom in the thought of shutting down the voice of the culture enticing me to live a life that's Pinterest-worthy and gains huge followings. 

I find freedom in the affirmation that what is found extraordinary in my life should not actually be anything that I do, but rather the God for whom I choose obedience in the tedious and mundane.

I find freedom in the declaration that it's not up to me at all to do big things. That's not even what God asks of any of us, although we tend to twist our ideology to believe that he does. 

What we are actually called to do is best summed up in this Scripture, which seems to be on loop in my life lately:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone.
  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

An ambitious life is not a loud, flashy life that beckons for attention and followers. But an ambitious life is a quiet, faithful DAILY life, convinced that the biggest thing in our lives is God and not us at all.

 So, let's pack the lunches.

Change the diapers.

Discipline the toddler.

Sit on the floor and play with the preschooler.

Make the dinner, day after day after day.

And trust that the biggest things we do with our lives is to realize the eternal value of doing small things, on repeat, with great faithfulness for the glory of our big God.

Finding satisfaction in becoming smaller so that He can become bigger.

We can do this in a thousand little ways, offering up our tiniest tasks as offerings. 

That's a life that adds up.

Packing lunches. And leaving it to God if he chooses to use our tasks to impact a multitude.

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