Making God Big in my Small Moments [Day 25: MOMENT]

An enduring temptation

There’s a heavy temptation to make each moment count. Not only that, we feel like we need to make those moments BIG. In life or ministry, we feel this immense pressure to always be on — always performing at top ability in order to see the results we wish for. I’ve fallen for this so many times in marriage, motherhood, and missional living. I think if do grand enough gestures, I will earn favor with my husband. If yield the rod of discipline and drill the Bible into my kids, they will behave like I want them to. And if badger my friends and acquaintances with the Gospel message, they will finally see their need for a Savior.

But I’ve gotten this so wrong. I am not the secret formula in any of these areas I strive to succeed in, and big isn’t always better. Rather than putting the world’s message in my pocket, I want to take Gospel truths to heart. Rather than making my moments big in my life, I want to make God big in my moments.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

The reality I don’t want to accept that comes with this is, often, in order to make God big in my moments, I have to make myself small. The apostle Paul was a reputable model for this type of mindset. Instead of seeking the respect of those he worked with or served in ministry like some hot-shot celebrity pastor, He compares his position to a nursing mother in 1 Thessalonians.

Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-7.

A small life surrendered to a big God

Think of the great works God did through the apostle Paul. He was surrendered wholly to the Lord, humble and dedicated in service to Him. He was not after the glory of men but the heart of the Father. We know He wanted results, and God gave Him big dreams. But we can see in his life that He did not stress over making each moment big but gave attention to making God big in each moment. Making tents, proclaiming a coming messiah, or writing letters from prison, Paul was available for God’s use in any way the Lord saw fit. He humbly walked the roads that led to Gospel-needy people and patiently instructed new believers in the way of the Lord. Gently leading, loving, and teaching as Paul did may not earn me any accolades, but it certainly pleases the Father.

A challenge to make God big in my moments

I remember being a nursing mother and how small and forgotten it could feel sometimes in the back of a dark nursery or in a broom closet while we were raising support. So much of our daily service to God each day is done in secret places. No one may know what we do for God in the quiet corners of our lives and ministries. But rather than seeking to upgrade our service by making each moment BIG, we must give our hearts to the daily task of making God BIG in each and every moment.

This is my goal going forward in marriage, motherhood, and missional living. It’s not all on me — it’s all in His hands. He is BIG enough to use little old me and meet each of my needs along the way.

I “make” God big in my life by allowing Him to be big in my moments.  I don’t seek to show off or win in areas of my life in my own strength but wholly depend on God for His provision.

How can you make God big in your moments today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

He Wants My Heart [Day 25: CAPTURE]

I’m not sure what I thought would happen when we moved to the mission field or stated a church. I guess all the talking about big dreaming and doing great things had wrapped up my soul in delusions and fantasies. When reality hit that life here is just like life anywhere else — work, struggle, joy, and pain — I felt a nagging sense of disillusionment. Wasn’t I supposed to feel more on fire for God than ever before? Shouldn’t we be well on our way to building a ministry that will knock our supporters’ socks off? Life looked more like mundane faithfulness as we gave ourselves to a language that didn’t seem to stick, trained toddlers who seemed allergic to obedience, and made a life in what felt like an unlivable place at the time.

I may have had expectations about our beginnings on the field. I may not have anticipated the growing pains and the disappointment that were waiting here to greet me in Arrivals next to tourists who would have their fun and go home. But God didn’t have expectations of me — because He knows me. He knew what I would face and how I would handle it, and it did not shock Him. He knew it would take me way too long to understand the things He was teaching me, but He would remain patient in His teaching.

Photo by Lumitar on Unsplash

What I didn’t realize then is that God was — and is — interested first in capturing my heart. Personal and ministry growth will happen as I give myself back to God in passionate pursuit of His heart. Once I realize truly how much He loves me and how much He desires my true devotion, it is my great joy and honor to throw all I’ve got at His holy feet.

These days, I am more involved in seeking the heart of Jesus than I have ever been in my life. This doesn’t mean I am not concerned with the things of life like serving my family, keeping a home, and participating in ministry. But it does mean that I do all those things differently. I do them considering first that I am loved and accepted as I am. Remembering that I am engaged in a thrilling romance with a partner who can’t be displeased. My heart is wholly captured, and my purest and truest response is to serve from the deepest places that love fills.

I’ll never be disappointed or disillusioned by my intimacy with Christ. Life and ministry will have their joyous victories and their crushing defeats, but Jesus plays only one note. He just plain loves me. Before cross-cultural commitments, ministry engagements, or family mission statements, He wants my heart.

I finally know Him well enough to gladly give it to Him.

I “make” God big in my life when I first seek His heart and a relationship with Him before trying to change the world for Him. He really just wants my heart!

What has drawn your heart away from seeking Christ?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

God’s Amazing Work in Common Life [Day 23: COMMON]

Strange, yet normal

As we went to bed last night, we looked outside to see why it seemed so much brighter in our room than usual. Little did we know — it was a full moon! As we peered outside for a few lingering moments, we could see that there was a small crowd gathered around the Hindu temple that lies just outside of our gate. Candles added to the glow of the night, and we marveled at how common yet still strange of an occurrence this seemed to us.

We spend a few moments talking about how odd it is that so much of life here seems normal to us. We had just walked by that temple an hour earlier with our kids on our nightly walk. There was no one there at the time. It is just a feature of our neighborhood now. It is only during heavy holiday seasons where the bells ring constantly and the fires burn all night that I take much thought. This thing that is so common to me must seem so exotic or strange to anyone else that lives in the location they’ve always called home. And I totally get that. I do try to pray each time I pass this place of worship, and we take the opportunity to share the Gospel with our children again when they acquire about that place is for.

Because this feels like home to me now. Shopping at the local market instead of a large grocer is normal and mundane. Watching my selected cut of chicken get chopped before my very eyes is commonplace. Tip-toeing around potholes, muddy puddles, and street-dog droppings while I walk my son to school is every day life. Words exchanged between neighbors from rooftop to rooftop is just a thing that happens sometimes.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography
Common, yet significant

The significance of all of it doesn’t strike me often. Yet, in my heart I know that God has brought us to this specific place to live this common life. Though it doesn’t feel exotic anymore, I know it is special. I have confidence that God is working through the common, everyday things to mold me for His service. He will use chit-chat that bores and the fixtures of our surroundings to change me and glorify Himself. When I think this way, this common life of mine doesn’t seem so ordinary anymore.

God uniquely works in each of His children’s lives. He shapes us into who we are and places us where we need to be. In His infinite wisdom, He reigns over even the most common parts of our days. There is nothing common about the mysterious ways He works through the events of our lives for His ultimate glory.

No matter how normal it all becomes to me over the years, none of it really is. King Jesus makes all things glorious.

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to see Him working through the commonness of my days. He delights in my recognition of the miracles He works in my mundane life.

In what common places do you see God uniquely working?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Me and My Three Audiences [Day 20: AUDIENCE]

I sit with my friend in her one-room home, and I take in all that she does from how she makes her tea to her preferences on dressing her son. I take note of what she watches on TV and what she says when she answers the phone. Much of what I have learned about my host culture has come through observing the behavior of others in this way. I play audience to everyone I meet here in attempt to understand, imitate, and appreciate their culture.

They don’t mind giving it right back. She asks me a laundry list of questions, mostly about why we do things differently than they do in regards to our children or dietary habits. She watches how I discipline my kids and inquires about my choice of fingernail polish. It used to bother me, feeling picked apart, but I know that she is seeking to understand my culture. I also know, that because our family lives somewhat counter-culturally, her whys will lead me to opportunities to talk about Christ’s difference in our life. She — and by God’s grace, many others — is my audience.

In all these encounters, I have a great opportunity to showcase Christ. I don’t live my life performing for Him because I know He is perfectly pleased with me because of the blood sacrifice. However, I do wish to honor that sacrifice in my daily interactions. Ultimately, He is the audience I am acutely aware is with me and watching at all times. I want to acquaint each member of my audience with Him so they may also have the wonderful gift of His presence in their lives.

Photos by Kelly Rockhold Photography

Three Audiences of My Life

I am someone’s audience

This can be something healthy like learning culture or it can be entirely something else. I recently unfollowed a bunch of accounts on Instagram. While I can’t necessarily recall why I started following theses accounts in the first place, I realized that few of them were feeding me as they should but were rather tempting me towards unhealthy comparison and envy. I had willingly become a part of their audience without concern for what this decision would do for my heart. This lesson is not applicable only to my online life but to my daily life as well. I must be mindful of who and what I allow to influence me.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Other people are a part of my audience

Generally, it’s just two little people, but it still holds true — there are people watching me. This may include people in our ministry, in our neighborhood, or in my little corner of the internet world. While I do not seek the approval of others, I desire to live a life that uplifts the name of Christ and blesses others. I do not perform for my audience, but in the Spirit I try to model who I am made to be in Jesus.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

I should seek only to please one audience

I hesitated to write about this because the whole “Audience of One” thing seems so cliche, but there’s a reason it has caught on. The temptation to perform for others or present our lives to be a certain way is real and ever-present — especially in the digital age. I don’t perform for others, but I don’t perform for God either. That is, I don’t work to please Him. I know because I’m covered in the blood, He is already pleased with me. Instead, I seek to honor that great sacrifice by living in a way that glorifies Him and celebrates my standing with Him.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24).

I’m watching. They’re watching. But most importantly, HE is watching.

I “make” God big in my life when I seek to honor Him in all my interactions.

What can you tell me about your audiences?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Awkward Encounters of the Worst Kind [Day 6: BELONG]

I stopped to visit a friend in the neighborhood on my way home from the bakery one day. It had been a while since I checked in with her, and I didn’t realize her husband had come home from his work assignment out of the city. I simultaneously called out her named and popped my head around the sheet she hangs in her door of her one room home during the day time. I was surprised to see her husband and two friends sitting down eating heaping plates of dal bhat.

My friend was on the opposite bed with her sleeping son and invited me to sit down where she had been sitting. As she went to make me a cup of tea, the interrogation began. They grilled me on all the usual topics and then some. It was embarrassing and exhausting. She could not come back into the room fast enough! When she arrived, I quickly sipped my tea and caught up with her as well as I could. I tried my best to avoid any more questions from the three amigos. What I had hoped would be a time of connection with a friend turned into a very frustrating encounter. I didn’t savor the last drop of milk tea. I slurped it down as fast as I could, and said something in my second language like, “Oh, look at the time.”

Photo by Dustin Smith

It’s moments like these that cut right to my heart. I think things like, I don’t belong here. I don’t understand this culture. I’m not a friend — I’m just a novelty. As much as I love living here, there are times when the reality of what it’s like to live in a culture not your own hits home. And it hurts. I feel small and forgotten.

I fall into the trap of thinking that this friend or this house or this level of language ability will finally make me feel like I belong. Maybe if our ministry takes off, and my schedule fills up with opportunities to teach and train, I will feel fulfilled. But in all these cases, my thinking is wrong. The truth is, if I ever make my home in this world, it stands on shaky soil. The US or any other place I reside should not have my heart. My heart should always be in heaven. I find my belonging in Christ alone.

That friend or that house or that coveted lifestyle can make me no promises, but my Lord Jesus has made a few. 

 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness (Psalm 107:9).

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35).

The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever (Psalm 22:26).

He alone can satisfy the longings of my soul. My home is in heaven with him. My heart will always feel the tension of my desire to serve Him on earth and dwell with Him in my forever home. This is true whether I’m in my home country or on foreign soil. Until He renders my service here complete and takes me to spend eternity with Him, I’ll continue to faithfully stumble my way through this life of ministry and all its awkward encounters. Trusting that His promises are true, I’ll find my belonging and satisfaction in Christ alone.

I “make” God big in my life when I find my belonging in Him alone. When I trust Him to satisfy my soul in the smallness of my life with the vastness of His love, I will find the contentment I am lacking. 

In what places have you searched for belonging and come up short?

Talk to me in the comment section below!