To Follow


I want a big life. I always have. I want to “change the world”. I want to build something that lasts. I want to be part of something bigger than myself.

But that’s not my life right now.

Right now what I’m called to is getting up with my daughter when she screams in the middle of the night (which lately she does often). Right now what I’m called to is making dinners, and cleaning dishes, and doing laundry. Right now what I’m called to is each therapy appointment, each doctors appointment, each changed bag on the G-tube pump. Right now what I’m called to is after-school conversations with a sticky-handed preschooler and bed time stories.

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Being a mom isn’t glamorous. It’s messy, mundane, and monotonous. It’s thankless and all consuming.

But, this is where I work out my salvation.

This is where God strips me of my pride, which says that I should be doing something “greater”. This is where I learn the truth of the gospel, that I can do nothing on my own. This is where I loose my life so that I can find it.

Lately I have found in myself a lot of bitterness about my role, my place. It feels insignificant. I feel insignificant. I know lots of people say that being a mom is the most significant thing you can do, but I don’t really believe them. I hear of people, and know people personally, who are doing amazing things – working to raise people out of poverty, to save girls from slavery, to educate and provide for the least of these. I know people who are giving lectures and getting book deals. I know people who are radically changing the lives of the orphaned, the misplaced, the starved, the abused. And I cry every time I hear about it. Being a suburban mom seems cushy and pale in comparison.

But, God keeps whispering to me about what’s truly most significant, “You, follow me.”

It’s the same response Jesus had to Peter when he was envious of the role someone else would play in the world and the work of the gospel. His response to Peter is as clear as his response to me, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

“If I want her to change the world, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Follow.

It’s that simple, and yet that difficult, isn’t it?

I still want to be working big significant change on the world, and that’s ok. I don’t have to give up on the big dreams that are buried within my heart. God may still bring them to fruition. But whether He does or doesn’t isn’t what really matters. What matters is that in each moment I follow Jesus. What matters is that I listen to that still small voice of the Spirit.

My job isn’t to run off right away and immerse myself in some “ministry” and my job isn’t to hid away in my home and use “my family is my ministry” as an excuse while others continue to suffer. There is deep pain in the world and I do need to do what I can to help and eliminate that pain where possible. I need to respond as God prompts, that’s what following means. And I think the sort of change that is worked on the world by simply turning where God leads and following is the truly radical change.

A few weeks ago a friend shared a story with me about Mother Teresa.

In essence a charity organization was organizing an event and they wanted Mother Teresa to come and speak at the event. They weren’t sure how they were going to go about that, but it turned out that they ended up meeting someone who knew the Mother and gave them contact information for the sister who organized her speaking arrangements. When the man working for the charity called to see about getting Mother Teresa to come speak he was surprised by the conversation. It went a little like this:

The charity worker told the sister about his charity and about the event they were planning and said they would like Mother Teresa to speak.

Sister: “Yes, I think that will work.”

Charity worker: “Ok, great. Well, we were thinking we would have the event on {particular day}, will that work for the Mother?”

Sister: “It should.”

Charity worker: “Well, should I book a flight for her?”

Sister: “You can if you want.”

Charity worker: “Um, ok. Well, what time should we plan the event for? What time works for the mother.”

Sister: “Oh, maybe I should explain to you how the Mother works. You see, the Mother goes where the Spirit leads… You can plan the event and she might be there, but if she feels led to go somewhere else she will.”

Silence.

Perhaps that is an extreme example, but it makes you think, doesn’t it?

Mother Teresa clearly had a profound influence on the world. Her work was well recognized and appreciated. She changed the lives of countless people. But, at the heart of it, was one thing, following Jesus. Following where the Spirit led. That’s it.

At this point in my life God hasn’t led me to the ghettoes of Calcutta, but he has led me to a little suburban neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has placed, right in front of me, a husband and two children who are in need of love, grace, and forgiveness. This work may not feel significant most days, but it does matter. God is not concerned with how significantly I change the world. He is not concerned with how recognized I am, or how influential my voice is. He doesn’t ask any of that from me.

What he asks is for me to lose my life, that I might find it IN HIM. He asks me to follow.

To follow.

To follow when I sense his prompting calling me to pick up the phone and invite that mom I’ve been wanting to get to know over for a play date. To step through doors that he swings open, despite my fear. To hold my son close and tell him stories of truth. To forgive my daughter and respond with grace when she wakes up again…and again. To clean up the kitchen because I know how it makes my husband feel loved. To drop off some cookies for the friend who’s been sick. To listen. To pray. To follow him in the way of LOVE. Right here, right now, in this place where I am. As I am going.

This is how I can work out my salvation. This is how I can have a big life. This is how I can become the change I want to see in the world.

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

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