One of the Voices in my Head Keeps Shouting

“Shouldn’t I DO something?”

This is the line that leads Julia Child, at mid-life, to take up cooking and the rest is history.

I think about the same thing when it comes to living out my faith.

During one of our weekly convocations at my Christian college, I remember sitting in the gym hearing a guest speaker’s voice boom through the PA system and issue the challenge “What great thing will you do for God?” That question still booms in my ears more than thirty years later.

Rest assured, I am and always have been a Baptist girl. Protestant as the day is long. Completely sold on and saved by grace. Sola gratia. Martin Luther is my homeboy. In everyday non-church language – I believe there is nothing I can do to earn my way into eternal life in heaven. My hope of heaven is completely dependent on what Jesus has done. I am forgiven because Jesus paid for my sins and there is nothing I can do to repay this debt.

BUT

Shouldn’t I DO something? Out of love for Jesus and compassion for the world, empowered by His spirit shouldn’t I DO something?

Something great. Something that shakes the world for Jesus. Something that affects a lot of people for Jesus. Something that requires high risk and immense faith. Something that would inspire a Vangelis score and earn me a tiny photo in Christianity Today when I die. Reach an unreached people. Smuggle Jesus movies into a closed country. Start a movement that brings Boomers to Christ leading to mass altar calls in retirement communities.

I don’t do anything like that.

I live in the smallest state. I’ve raised a small family. I poured out the bulk of my teaching energy on two children. I’ve loved one man. I work part-time. I went on short-term missions – once. Years ago I counseled runaways at a small shelter. I teach high school Sunday school but always to small classes in small churches. I’ve led Bible studies for women but they would all qualify as small groups. I talk about Jesus to those who don’t know Jesus but only one at a time in small conversations. I’ve had articles and essays and plays published but this is small success in the writing world.

What great thing will you do for God? Sometimes it feels like that PA system set up a satellite in my brain like Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction.

But, I guess even from the day I heard the question posed, I’ve had reservations about it.

First, there is no evidence that any of the men and women of the Bible who were used by God actually set out to do great things for Him. Most of them appear to have simply been living normal lives of faithfulness to Him when He upset their apple carts with great assignments.

Second, I have a Herculean struggle with pride and ambition already. Seeking to do something great would seem to feed that monster, not tame it. Making that great thing be for God certainly seems noble but it’s still me seeking after greatness which tempts me to try to catch a beam of God’s spotlight, steal just a bit of His glory for myself.

Third, at that same college we would sing a song by Larry Norman, “I Am a Servant”. I committed myself back then to SERVE Jesus. I’ve seen Upstairs/Downstairs on the BBC. Servants do what they are told to do. They work and wait for assignments from the head of the house. They are always willing but they wait for instructions from those they serve. Despite the TV show, life at the manor is about the head of the house, not the servants. If greatness is to be done, it is done by the Master, not the servant.

I know this is sounding like I end up watching Mr. Holland’s Opus or It’s a Wonderful Life and deciding that I have done something great for God simply by living my life but I’m not feeling as neat as that about this issue. Because I do love Jesus and I do have compassion on the world and I am empowered by the Holy Spirit, so greatness aside –

Shouldn’t I DO something?

There are children who are unloved in this world. Teens at risk. Elderly people uncared for and alone. There is injustice, poverty, oppression, human trafficking, disease, depression and spiritual darkness. I may be just a middle-aged women living in the smallest state with an unimpressive resume and limited resources but Christ lives in me and He’s not interested in early retirement. I have hands, feet, a voice, a heart all that could be employed in serving others in the name of Jesus.

In many ways, I’ll always be that girl sitting in a bleacher hearing a challenge over the PA.

Remember Daniel was in his eighties when he went to the lion’s den. Joshua and Caleb were well past middle age when they were called to lead the armies of God. Noah was getting on in years when he built the ark and Jesus did not go to the Hebrew schools to call his disciples but to grown men with families and businesses. There is still time to DO.

I suppose as a young woman, I heard that question posed and focused on the word GREAT. Now, hearing it through the experience of thirty-plus years, I’m focused on the word DO. God is great. The only greatness I seek is Him but I don’t ever want to close myself off to the possibility that there is more that I can do to serve Him here on earth.

Things that require high risk and immense faith. Things that shake people up (including me) for Jesus. Things beyond my imagining, beyond my comfort zone, or beyond the comfort zones of those I love. In the words of Larry Norman “To live’s a privilege, to love is such an art.” As long as I am alive I want to work at perfecting the art of loving God and loving others.

Shouldn’t I DO something?

Yes, the answer is yes.

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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Cheri says:

    My dear friend,

    You are “doing” something! You are living a life of faith, day in and day out. You stumble occasionally, but you get right back up and go forward for Him. You trust Him. To the world, you may not be somebody; but to “somebody,” you are the world. People are always watching us; some we never, ever know about. A life of steady and unwavering faith (not perfection, but faith) speaks loudly to those who watch us and wait for us to prove to them that God is not real, that He is not faithful.

    So I agree with all you said, wholeheartedly. We cannot do anything to save ourselves; we are totally dependent on Christ for that. We should not choose to do something to seek greatness; but we should do something for God, whatever something He has asked of us, even if it is “just” loving one man, raising two children, trusting in the one and only true God and sharing Him with those you have opportunity to share with… in a Sunday school class… in a women’s Bible study… on your blog.

    Yes, we should all do something!

    Love and hugs,
    Cheri

  2. Karen says:

    I think DOing something is a great idea, but it gets sticky. I don’t want to DO just to DO. I listen closely to God, and where He sends me, I go. If we are DOing just to soothe our restless human hearts, are we realling DOing it for God. If we DO in obedience to a task God has given us, that is truly DOing.

    We may or may not be pounding the pavement under our feet, but we (you and I and other writers for God) are definitely pounding the keyboard under our fingers. God occasionally calls me to pound the pavement as well, but I truly think He does that so I can come right back here, write out the experience, apply His message, and hit the “send” button.

    As long as I am following His lead, I am DOing.

    Thanks, as always, for making me think.

  3. Exactly, Karen. That’s what I see when I look at men and women of the Bible. They didn’t DO until they were given something TO do! They didn’t just rush around looking for a good service project. When armies go to war, some carry weapons, other carry cameras or laptops. We go where we are assigned.

  4. Living Water says:

    You are doing some great here!

  5. brandy says:

    Loved this post, Lori.