Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Take Courage

I think anybody who has ever undertaken a work for the cause of Christ has felt that kind of discouragement: the sense that you work and work and the product seems so paltry. You pour yourself into a thing week after week and month after month and the fruit is so minimal. Then you look back in history or across town and see the grand achievement of others, and your temple seems so trivial. And you get discouraged and are tempted to quit and put away your aspirations and drop your dreams and put your feet up in front of the television and coast. Who wants to devote his life to a second-rate temple?
~ John Piper

There is a principle here that applies to you and me: God takes small, imperfect things and builds them into a habitation for his glory. O, how we should take courage in our little spheres of influence! And is this not the message of Advent and Christmas? What more appropriate word could God have said to Mary as Jesus was growing up: Take courage, young mother, you build more than you see. And so it is with every one of us. Nothing you do is a trifle if you do it in the name of God. He will shake heaven and earth to fill your labor with splendor. Take courage, you build more than you see. ~ John Piper

These are a couple of quotes that grabbed my heart as I read Take Courage by John Piper.

I don't know about you, but as a wife and mother and servant of Christ and His church, I often find myself doubting my significance in this big ole world. I wonder if the sacrifices I make, the efforts I put forth, will ever show fruit or be of any use to God or anyone else.

As a mother when I have to repeat and reteach the same things over and over and over and over I wonder if anyone is really even paying attention to anything I say or do. When I read how the mom over there has managed to get their kids to music lessons, science fairs, dance lessons, sport activities, and they field trip once a week and the child is stylin' and profilin' in the latest Justice apparel with a feather in her perfectly styled hair after eating her four star breakfast, lunch, and dinner and mom has still managed to get them in bed by 8pm with a bed time story to boot...
I wonder am I getting anything right?

As a wife when I read how this wife over there is up at 4am showered and dressed and made-up and donning her newest outfit with heels to fix her honey his breakfast and give him the June Cleaver kiss on the cheek and wave as he goes off to the office and turns back into the house and her dress spins and poofily swirls about her as she skips into the house to grab her feather duster and float through the house removing all the grime of life...and never, ever, ever does she loose her temper... and well supper is always on the table at the exact right time, and never burned... and its been planned out all week, and the underwear is always clean and in the drawer, and never does anyone yell wet and naked from the bathroom, "Are there any clean towels?!?"
I wonder am I getting anything right?

As a servant of Christ and His church and I hear how so and so has this many who come to class and this ministry has exploded and I watch the church down the road grow and grow and I know what God has to offer through the servants and ministries of my local church and I wonder why people leave or don't come or don't serve or don't shout with praise over and in the Word and why you just can't seem to make them happy no matter what you do or change...
I wonder am I getting anything right?

Then I have my little one's come running up and grab me and tell me that I am the bestest Momma ever!!! They think I am marvelous, even though it's one sport at a time with a break in between, hand me-down clothes most of the time, frozen waffles or cereal for breakfast, and yes I will yell after the second time I have repeated myself...

Then I have my husband lift my chin and look me in the eyes and tell me that he loves me, and when I am complaining about how I feel as though nothing is ever accomplished, he looks at me and says, "I see when the sink is empty, I notice when the laundry is all done." It's absolutely crazy how much that means, that to know that he notices, that he saw, made it an accomplishment. But maybe it's not so crazy after all...

Then I get the random text from someone whose life I have poured into and they ask me to pray or are just needing to vent or are excited because they have just gotten involved with a certain ministry or area of service and just wanted to share it with me, or when a precious one I taught in VBS comes running up to me and wraps thier little arms around me and says "Hello Mrs Nicole!" then all the hours, frustrations, prayers... they're worth it... always worth it.

I have realized that when I look at others all I see is what they want to show. I don't always glimpse the behind the scenes. I have learned that we all have our issues, and what's even crazier is that I have learned that there are others who are looking at me and thinking the very same things that I think when I look at them... no matter how perfect things and people may look from the outside, we all have our issues...

However, we are all here for a purpose, even with our issues, and we are here in this time around this group of people for a reason beyond our own comprehension and understanding.

You are not here by chance but by God's choosing. His hand formed you and made you the person you are. He compares you to no one else. You are one of a kind. You lack nothing that His grace can't give you. He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special purpose for this generation. It is encouraging to know that we do not have to be perfect to be memorable and to be used by Him. Perfection is over-rated.
~ (from my birthday card from Precept)

So keep building that temple, for it's His and for Him...
Keep putting forth those efforts, keep pouring out your heart, keep serving, for you build more than you can see.

But as for you, brethren,
do not grow weary of doing good.
2 Thessalonians 3:13
Your weaknesses.
Your failures.
Your struggles.
Your seemingly unnoticed efforts.
Your thought insignificance.

Lay your measuring cups and spoons aside.
Stop comparing your Monet to Michelangelo.
Live purposefully and intentionally and obediently to your calling in your sphere of influence in this day and know that the Grand Weaver is at work... 

I do all things for the sake of the gospel,
so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
1 Corinthians 9:23

Take courage you build more than you see.
You sphere of influence reaches further than you realize.
Your temple is more beautiful than you know.

As a matter of fact, I would bet that as you sigh and look across the way and admire the temple of another and consider yours so small and second rate compared to theirs, if you were to turn around there would be one behind you doing the same as they compare their temple to yours and then if you could walk across the way and speak to the one you are admiring you would most likely find them staring across the way...

That's why God says 

For we are not bold to class
or compare ourselves with some of those
who commend themselves;
but when they measure themselves by themselves
and compare themselves with themselves,
they are without understanding.
2 Corinthians 10:12

Let us stop comparing our work with each other and let us only look to see if our Bridegroom, has noticed... if He has lifted your chin and told you that He loves you and lets you know that yes He has seen... 

Because when it is for Him, for His house, for His children, even if it is simply a momentary empty sink or empty laundry basket... or frozen waffles and hand-me-down clothes... or a Sunday school class or prayer meeting that only two or three attend...

If your Bridegroom has noticed (and if it is for Him, in Him, through Him, and to Him... He will) then it is always an accomplishment.  

The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home,
Filling it with love and prayer and purity,
Is doing something better than anything else
Her hands could find to do beneath the skies.
~ J.R. Miller

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