ambition enough

How to Live a Life that Matters

2:57 PMHeather

We want our lives to matter. The struggle for satisfaction and "success" is one that drives us all, with variances only in how we define these things. Culture tends to define a life that matters in hyperbole, with wide, swooping, and grandiose gestures that go viral, make you a millionaire, or bring great change.

This mentality bleeds into the Church, no matter if we define success differently than the world. We see stadiums packed to hear Christian speakers and musicians. We follow Christian authors and preachers as one of the thousands or millions that make up their audience. We hear stories of the efforts of one person that led to huge ministries or non-profits.

This chasing after the bigger, even in the name of the kingdom, distorts our view of both ourselves and our God. We imagine that a big God demands big acts, and we get sidetracked along the way and seek attention for ourselves, stealing it from God.

A life that matters is not built by sweeping, huge gestures and demonstrations of faith. Instead, a righteous life is built by steadfastly, day-by-day, choosing to surrender to obedience in the tiny acts of faith. A life of great faith is created gradually, with a million minute-by-minute and day-after-day choices to look to God rather than to our circumstances.

The grandest displays of God's excellencies are seen in the tiniest details. We see our weaknesses as something to hide, but God sees them as the greatest backdrop of his unending strength.

Photo by Annette Schuman on Unsplash

Who can understand the ways of God? 

A foreign Moabite widow became the grandmother of King David.

Two lowly Hebrew midwives refused to obey Pharaoh's command to kill the newborn boys, and thus Moses was spared.

God used a defiant preacher to turn the wicked Ninevite nation back to himself.

He used a murderer on the run to become the deliverer of his people.

He used a tiny stone to take down a giant and the mighty Philistine army.

He passed over the oldest and the bigger sons to choose the youngest and least to become the great King David.

God himself sent his perfect Son to be wrapped in the constraints of human flesh as a helpless baby on his way to our salvation.

Jesus chose a rag tag group of twelve to become his inner circle. 

The Bible is full of names of people we can't pronounce and whose stories are untold. But God saw them. He knew them by every hair of their head, and he noted every day of their lives. The world may have missed it, but heaven didn't.

We think bigger and better and bolder and hold up a plumb line of grandiose to measure our lives. Our ambitions are tremendous and we hear the voice of society saying more, more, more.

God says:

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 anybody.
1 Thessalonians 4:11 -12

Ambition brings to mind chasing something bigger, but God says make it our ambition to chase SOMEONE bigger.

Scripture defines this as chasing the smaller things, the quiet things, the unnoticed things, the faithful and tiny, the mundane and tedious.     

We make things so complicated but God says it's so simple.

It's cultivating a connection with God in increasing measure every single day through the Word and prayer. It's minute by minute choosing to turn our thoughts heavenward and be filled with an affection for the One who delights in us and sees us. It's loving the least of these and doing the hard and unseen things day after day after day.

It's the reality of a mother, or a nurse in hospice. It's the life of a janitor or the offerings of a teacher. It's the ordinary and overlooked on the margins who press in and find the motivation to do all that they do in endless repetition because it's what's in front of them to do. It's loving those in your path and extending the grace shown to you. It's sticking it out when it's hard and asking God to keep showing up in the struggle.

That's a life that matters. A life that continually turns ambition on its head by expanding it to embrace the "insignificant" with the assurance that it's enough in the economy of God. 

Do the small things. Learn to love them and offer them up as your sacrifice and offerings - your tiny loaves and fishes that can be multiplied in the hands of our Creator to feed even the thousands. Be assured that it's enough. Be convinced that this is the substance of a faithful life that matters. 

The small. The tiny. The quiet. The unrecognized.

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