Last week, after several rather intense phone conversations, I told E that even when I am home in my pajamas all day, "the world comes to me." It wasn't something I'd consciously thought, but since then, more and more, God has been hammering it home. And though I wouldn't be so crass as to share other people's stories, there's a gem hidden that fits well for me in this season.
The thing is that I'm an over-educated, under-qualified woman of a certain age, who hasn't quite lived up to her potential in the eyes of the world. Certainly if my father had been alive these last 15 years to see it, he would have taken me out to more than one meal to ask/tell me that I should be doing more with my life than this. That my gifts and talents and education were meant for something. For a profession, an accomplishment. Dad wouldn't have allowed for the weaknesses and ailments that have caused such havoc in body to define me, nor for the failure of the novel (so close and yet so far from being published!) to be the end of that effort. He would have pushed and kept pushing for me to do and be more. I knew him. I know him still.
And beyond him there are those I meet now and then who have heard me preach, sat in classes and retreat I taught, gone on mission trips I led. They are shocked and dismayed that my life is so reduced, that I confine myself to this...to prayer and writing this blog, to speaking where and when--in the small ways--God puts people in my path. To a small, even hidden, life--that's really how I put it. To non-accomplishment, non-whatever.
And then there is me. Me. Who has to live within myself and my own visions for my life, the pulpit I imagined (though never an official one), the book I dreamed of, the ministry and the accomplishments. Yes, the accomplishments. Even just being able to have an answer when I'm asked the innocuous question, "And what do you do, Carolyn?" To know that all that study (two BAs, one whole Masters, and another partial) landed me here is humbling, because it isn't what I expected. Not even close.
I had grand ideas. Name in lights ideas. Visions of greatness for the Kingdom. I wanted Him to shine through me. When I was 20 I made a list of things I was going to do by the time I was 30. Now, 30 years later, there are more things left on that list than there are crossed off.
But here I am--living this small life. The twists and turns of my story have brought me here. To this place, this moment. And to the understanding of three things:
1. In one of my theology classes in college, a professor spoke of humility as the "Leveling of the perpendicular I". And it seems to me that that's exactly what my small life continues to give me. Exactly the opposite of what I wanted, but necessary to what HE wanted to develop within. I know me. I know the raging pride that asserts itself with such force every single day. With a little personal glory, how much more ravenous that pride would be. I can hardly think of it without thanking Him for keeping me from such a pit of SELF.
2. As I told E, the world comes to my door. Almost every day, one way or another, there is an opportunity to minister to someone in need of Jesus. Even on the days when my physical body can hardly move, the Holy Spirit manages to use my mouth to speak to those He sends this direction. I'm in awe of the varied opportunities to speak with and pray for hurting Christ-ones, and searching lost ones who come to my metaphoric and literal door. God shows up, He is working and HE uses me. For that I am thankful. I don't have to make the effort--He does it!
3. Therefore, like Paul, I will glory in my weaknesses. I will praise Him for the reduced and unanticipated, undreamed-of circumstances of my small life. "For when I am weak, I am strong." And that is why I actually 'delight' (as Paul says) in the hardships and difficulties that led me to this small life. The physical 'thorns in the flesh', the failures (from the world's point of view), and the missed or lost opportunities. Because God reminds me that He has humbled me for the express purpose of empowering me to live and preach by grace alone. In whatever way HE calls me.
Yes, I live a small life...but with a very large God.
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."