Tag: purpose

Do You Feel Too Small?

The other day I was working in my “office” and this was my view.

I posted this on Instagram:

Do you see the two people in a canoe on the far side of the lake? They remind me of the first line in a book we used to read to our kids: “The world is big, but I’m so small….”

This morning I’ve been thinking how we can feel “small” in a way that says “insignificant”, or we can feel “small” in a way that says, “Wow! Be inspired. You are part of something bigger than yourself, held and loved by One bigger than yourself.” Whether you’re a teacher or a boss or a mom, I pray this Monday that you have a sense of being part of something great!

Two of my favorite Bible verses seem like they might be at odds with each other.

“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Nehemiah 6:3

“Who dares despise the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10

The thing is, our “small things” may also be the “great work” we are not to be distracted from. Our “small thing” may be showing up for a commitment when we don’t feel like it, listening longer than is comfortable, bringing a pot of soup to someone who feels tired and alone, reading a Bible story to a toddler… In each of our small things we have the opportunity to love well, to reflect the character of Jesus, to make an eternal impact.

What is your small thing that is also a “great work” God has given you today?

What if You Don’t Like the Chapter You’re Living?

Last week I spoke to a large gathering of young moms. As I looked around the room of women seated at round tables I saw the fatigue of too little sleep, and the hopeful expressions of “please nourish me with something other than goldfish crackers”.

I know that most of them (probably with toddlers wrapped around their legs), stood in front of a mirror fretting about what to wear and how to camouflage a bulge here or there. I know I did too.

They worried about how much of their true story to reveal. They wondered if the chapter they’re living is important or impossible.

Each of us, married or single, parents or not, old or young, are living a chapter in the larger story of God.

You may not like this chapter you’re living right now. You may think it’s not important to the Storyline.

You see signs like this and you want to hurl something.

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But God’s story doesn’t depend on our setting.

How did Moses feel about his chapter in the wilderness when God was writing a chapter of character refinement?

How did John feel about his chapter exiled on Patmos when God was writing a chapter of encouragement for the future?

How did Peter feel about his chapter in jail when God was writing a story of salvation for a jailer?

How did Joseph feel when he was sold into slavery when God was writing a chapter of rescue for His people?

Or how did Elizabeth feel during the MANY chapters of her life when she was barren when God was writing a chapter of preparation.

In Exodus 3:21 God says to his people in slavery (READ: crappy chapter!):

“I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.”

But this promise isn’t fulfilled until Exodus 12:36! That’s chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 that the Israelites had to trust that God was at work writing a redemptive story even though they couldn’t see it! They had to trust that even in the midst of harsh punishment and plagues and Pharaoh’s hard heart, God was at work. And they weren’t very good at it. Like you and I are often not very good at trusting that God is working in ways we can’t see.

God repeated His promises to the Israelites in Exodus 6, “but they did not listen to Him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.”

Sin is when we reject God’s script and try to write another one. We want to snatch the pen out of His hand and write ourselves out of a situation that God may be using for purposes we can’t see yet.

When we moved from Washington D.C. to Minneapolis, humanly speaking there was not enough time to sell our house in D.C. and close on one in our new state before John started work. We had two daughters under 3 years old, and I did not relish the idea of being a nomad wandering in the wilderness without a home (cue the violins). CLEARLY God needed my help with the script. I chose to snatch the pen away and try to write my own story.

And so I made an unethical choice. Before John had formally been offered the job, I whispered in the ear of a realtor friend that he could “unofficially” show our house on the DL while we were away in Minneapolis candidating.

When we arrived back in D.C. I called the realtor to ask if my plan had worked and he had a buyer. He said “Nope!”.

As soon as I hung up the phone, it rang. I picked it up and it was a different realtor who had no idea we were moving, but she had been in our house. She had a couple who had been looking for a home for a two years. She had described our house to them and they wanted to buy it sight unseen at asking price if we were willing to sell it.

And God said “HA!! I will ALWAYS be a better author than you. Trust me!”

If you’re living a chapter that seems like Egypt, seems impossible, it may be that you’re living Exodus 4-11, and like in chapter 12, a teacher recently pointed out to me that you won’t have to leave empty handed. Think about what you may be able to take with you from this chapter you’re living.

 

Why are You Doing the Hard Thing?

33 days from today is the Half-Marathon.  13.1 miles.  It’s hard thing.  But everyone reading this is doing a hard thing.  Or a lot of hard things.

This was the text I sent to Katy and Maggie the other day after I ran.  It is similar to many other texts I’ve sent over the past six months.

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I questioned myself once again, “WHY the heck am I doing this?”

Just like you may ask yourself,

“Why did I commit to lead this small group?

Why do I keep tutoring this under-resourced kid who doesn’t seem to care?

Why should I stay in this hard marriage?

Why did I move here?

Why am I serving on this board?

Why did I start this business?…”

“Why did I choose to do this hard thing?” Continue reading

Fear, Seasons, and Your Legacy

It’s Fearless Friday, and I’m so excited to introduce another guest writer to you!  John and I have had the privilege of walking alongside Kari and Matt Norman for several (10??) years now.  They are a remarkable young couple who lead authentic, examined lives of faith in Jesus.  You’ll see that from Kari’s words today!

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Last Wednesday my husband and I watched our twin boys climb up the school bus stairs, smile and wave through the window, and head off for their first day of kindergarten.  It was a marking moment, and one I’d envisioned in my mind’s eye many times.

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I had been holding it together so well!  Until the day before… when despite best efforts, I cried at the parent teacher conference when asked if this was my first child entering kindergarten.  I said, “Yes, my first, and my second.”  Pause.  “And my last, all at once.”  Cue the tears.  The teacher reached across the table, held my hand, gave me a look that conveyed genuine care, as well as a nod that seemed to say, “You can hold it together.  Really, you can!  Um, please…  can you?”

She didn’t know that I’d had six miscarriages along the way.  Continue reading

A Conversation about Flour and Oil

Monday I wrote about how God has used the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarepath to teach me.  Did it sound like a piece of cake?

Not so much.

Here’s an honest conversation I had with the Lord recently.

Me: Lord, I’m ticked…really disappointed and discouraged.  I kind of want to throw my handful of flour back in your face and call it a day.

Honestly, Lord??  What I REALLY want is for You to take my flour and oil and make a ginormous fancy-shmancy cake worthy of the Cake Boss, that people will “ooh” and “aahh” over.

But instead it seems like my flour and oil concoction usually turns out looking more like an ordinary, boring tortilla.

Continue reading

Two Questions to Consider Every Day

This week is the one year anniversary of the start of this little blog.

A year ago about this time I had nothing.

Ok, that’s “a lie from the pit of hell“, as daughter Maggie would say.  I “had” a lot of things.  A lovely home, and delightful family and friendships I treasured.  But it felt like I had nothing partly because I didn’t have an impressive job title.  Actually I didn’t have any job title.

I felt like an untethered space station floating in the inky cosmos.

We had just returned from a five month sabbatical and I was clueless about how the next season of my life would look.  What was my “place“?  Who was my “tribe“?  Was there anywhere God could use me to add value?

The answers seemed to be “nowhere”, “no-one”, and “nowhere” (again).

Maybe your circumstances are different, but you can relate.  You’re “in transition” (that horrible euphemism for “in a place that feels scary and directionless“). Or maybe you’re just feeling unsettled and under-utilized.

Continue reading

You’re (NOT) Invited!

Which of these do you like better?

“You’re invited!” or “Everyone’s welcome!”

Holy buckets!  There’s a big difference in my mind between those two phrases.

One is personal.  The other is just permissive.

There’s going to be a Girls’ Night out.  Or a BBQ.  Some folks doing Kareoke.  A church event.  Lots of people are going.  You know that because you’ve seen it on Facebook or read Tweets about it.

But you’re not invited.

If you asked, they’d probably say, “Sure, come!  Everyone is welcome!”  But that’s different from being personally invited.

Continue reading

You never know…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about two verses in the Old Testament that sound like they should be mutually exclusive.  

A verse that I love is one where the Old Testament prophet Zechariah warns us not to “despise the day of small things.”  (Zech. 4:10).

I’m thankful for this reminder.  My days are almost always days of “small things”.  I’m tempted to consider mine a pretty superfluous life…To think nothing I’m doing adds up to anything with eternal consequences.

Conversely I consider my husband and the things he’s doing, and I often think of the second verse that’s been on my mind, Nehemiah 6:3 “I am doing a great work and can’t come down.”  You look at his life and you can clearly see great work he’s invested in.  He has the privilege of caring for the poor around the world.  Leading institutional change in the church.  Investing in eternity through ministry to thousands at our church.

But what if the small things are also the great work of God?

What if there’s “Great work” that looks like great work, but there’s also great work that never gets a shout out?  What about people around the world who are humbly, faithfully, offering gifts of grace…

on dusty roads,

in conversations at coffee shops,

next to strangers at airports,

in school classrooms,

in office conference rooms

What about all the small decisions just to remain faithful?  To put one foot in front of another?

What days in the Bible seemed like throw aways?  Days of small things that didn’t really matter?

The day David did the task of leaving his sheep to bring bread to his important brothers who were doing the “great work” of fighting Goliath and the Philistines?

The day Ruth left her home to travel with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem and start a new life?

The day the widow of Zarephath used the last of her flour and oil to make a meal for Elijah?

The day Mary and Martha opened their home to Jesus?

What if parents crept into their children’s rooms while they were asleep and prayed over them, saying “It may seem like a small thing, but I am doing a great work and I can’t come down.”?

What if businessmen and bus drivers and baristas and teachers and techies sealed their resolve each day to do the small things as Jesus would with the refrain, “I’m doing a great work and I can’t come down.”?

The other day a woman approached John and told him about a friend of hers who she had invited to church for the first time.  The friend walked in and saw that John was the pastor she started to cry in utter amazement, at the personal care of God.

She said that she had been on a flight from Seattle to Minneapolis having a terrible day and was in tears (apparently this woman has been crying a lot lately).  A man on the flight noticed and asked if she was ok.  At the end of the conversation he said, “I’d be happy to pray for you.”  When she walked into church for the first time she saw the stranger who had listened and prayed for her on that flight.  It was John.

In God’s economy, this small thing may be a greater work than all the more high profile things.

small thing that has the potential to be a “great work” of God.

You never know…

What’s a small thing in your day that may become a great work of God?

© 2017 Laura Crosby

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