Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Playing small

Hello, God.

I was talking the other day. Talking to my husband, to my friend, to you.

It strikes me that I probably did that in the wrong order. But anyway.

I was talking about hopes and dreams and what stops me from doing anything. What stops me from going out on a limb. What inhibits me, stops me from going for it, as they say.

I've been reading a lot lately about stepping out in faith and following the path you have chosen for us. Not dawdling along and collapsing on the nearest bench, but actually going where the path goes, whether or not I'm out of breath. Walking with you, trusting that there is always more path even though I can't see it. Believing that if you started me down this path then you know where it leads and you do want me to get there.
'For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.'
Ephesians 2:10

You made me. You made me to do something with my life and you have a plan. You didn't intend for me to sit comfortably and admire the view.

I am pretty sure that the plan is not for me to sit here drinking coffee, eating too many biscuits and waiting for something to drop into my lap. Treading water. Killing time. I need to find some get-up-and-go, and for someone low on confidence and energy, whose inclination is towards excessive napping and whose default position is procrastination, get-up-and-go takes a bit of finding.

I do think that recently you have been prompting me. Not in any subtle sort of way, either. It's become impossible to ignore, and so here I am. Trying to work out what comes next.

Max Lucado (Again. I am a big fan) said this:
'What about you? As God calls, he equips. Our maker gives assignments to people. What have you done well? What have you loved to do? Stand at the intersection of your affections and successes and find your uniqueness. You have one. An uncommon call to an uncommon life.'
(Cure for the Common Life, 2006, Thomas Nelson)

I want to live an uncommon life. I don't want to be run of the mill. I don't want to meet you on the Big Day and feel that I let you down. I don't want for you to ask me with disappointment in your eyes what I did with the gifts you gave me. I don't want to look back and see how wonderful the tapestry of my life could have been if only I'd had more...what?  Courage? Faith? Get-up-and-go?

I was talking about this and a quote was nagging at me. Something someone said that I read a long, long time ago and although most of it I'd forgotten, a few words came back to me. I googled the bit that I knew and this is what it was.
'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.'
Marianne Williamson, 'A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of 'A Course in Miracles' (often attributed to Nelson Mandela).

My playing small doesn't serve the world. If I bury my talents in the ground and eventually give them back to you unused and muddy then you've said that you won't be best pleased. If I plant the seeds that I have, then who knows what might grow?

From tiny acorns grow towering oak trees.

From tiny acorns...
But it's easier to play small. Less scary to curl up in a ball and hope nobody notices me if the alternative is to stick my head above the parapet.

I'm not good at boldness and I live in fear of failure. I hate being laughed at. I worry about what people think. No wonder I don't get much done.

On the one hand I know who you are and I know what you're like and I love you and I trust you and I know that you have a job for me to do with this life and I know that you won't let me down. On the other hand I doubt myself and I worry about things going wrong and the result is paralysis.

Rabbit in the headlights.

My playing small doesn't serve the world. Who am I to hide my light under a bushel? The world is my oyster!

Ahem.

This is hard. I feel as if I'll set myself up for disaster. If I claim to be good at something, to have Big Plans, then people will laugh at me. It will all go wrong.

Mr L again:
'The fire of your heart is the light of your path. Disregard it at your own expense! Blow it. Stir it. Nourish it. Cynics will doubt it. Those without it will mock it. Those who know it, those who know Him, will understand it.'
Max Lucado Daily Devotional, 19 April 2012

Who cares what the cynics say? (Little voice in my head says, 'I do') Who cares who mocks (and again). But maybe it's worth the hassle and the ridicule to look in the eyes of those people who know you and understand. I'm working through this in my mind. I have no idea what plan you have for my life, but I do know that you have one. I know that you've made me just the way I am for a reason. There's something that you want me to do with this short time I have down here that nobody else can do. If I don't do it, then that tiny but significant part of your Plan goes undone.

I could have made a difference and I chose not to.

Do I want to try to explain that when I meet you face to face?

But I don't want to live my life as you would have me live it just because I'm afraid of the consequences if I don't. I want to please you. I want you to be proud of me. I want to achieve something for your sake. To wrap up my life's work with a bow and present it to you as an offering. To leave this place a little bit different (and in a good way) from the way it would have been without me.

Good and faithful servant, as the story goes. I want to be one of those.

So I don't want to play small. I want to think big, because my big, even my BIG is only the tip of the iceberg of your Big.
'Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Chris Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!'
Ephesians 3:20

So is my small insignificant? I have found over and over again in the last couple of years that if I give you a little, you give me back something huge. You take my tiny, imperfect offering and magnify it until it becomes something wonderful. Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Think of that.

My wildest dreams are nowhere near wild enough.

You can do it. I can't, but you can. And you don't wait for me to be ready, you ask me to step out in faith, relying on you, not myself. If I waited until I was ready then I would still be sitting here contemplating a coffee and a packet of biscuits in a decade's time.
'If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come.'
CS Lewis

See? I'm getting the message. You know what I'm thinking and you keep nudging me. I tell myself, I can't do anything much at the moment - maybe there'll be a better opportunity in the future. You send a morning devotional with CS Lewis to tell me that a better time will never come. I convince myself that I don't have what it takes and you send Max Lucado to tell me:
'God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called! Don't let Satan convince you otherwise. He'll try. He'll tell you God has an IQ requirement or an entry fee. He'll tell you God only employs specialists and experts. '
You keep on going. Am I listening yet?

Another morning devotional sent to my phone in the last two weeks:
'Jesus said: 'What are you producing with your life for the Kingdom of God?'
(Robert Boyd Munger, 'My Heart - Christ's Home Through the Year, 2004, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

And I have my hands over my ears and I'm just wanting to go to sleep. It seems too hard to look into the future and try to take control. Easier to take each day as it comes, in my routine, in my rut. Trundling along, not pedalling particularly hard. Not taking any risks. Not upsetting the applecart.

But you didn't call us to live ordinary lives. You told us that we were chosen, special, extraordinary. Your Holy Spirit lives in me; how can I be run of the mill? If you ask me to do something for you with my life, who am I to argue with you? If you tell me that I'm good enough, who am I to say, no, I think you're wrong?

My playing small doesn't serve the world.

Help me not to play small, Father. At times I feel very small indeed. I feel powerless and afraid and inadequate. But you said:
'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'
2 Corinthians 12:9

Well, I am weak.

Pathetic, even. An emotional wreck, these past few days. Nothing going right, distractions here, there and everywhere. I feel as if I have a million reasons why nothing I try would ever amount to much. I feel as if there's no way I could ever accomplish anything for you. As if everything I touch just turns to dust. But you keep nudging. With infinite patience you keep on smiling and then sending something else to throw light on the seed you planted a couple of years ago. You have a plan for me and the time is right. Not my time; that will never be right. Your time.

Give me courage to take another step, Father God. Give me wisdom and patience and always more faith.

I don't want to play small with my life. I want to show your glory to people; to shine as a child of God, because that is what I am. I want to be all that I can be; do what you made me to do.

I want to live an uncommon life.





Edited and reposted from April 2012, because guess what? Nothing has changed very much..... still working on this.

10 comments:

  1. You have an 'uncommon' way with words Helen.You do - really. Being scared is part of the package but the joy when you get out of the boat is wonderful. I'm learning that [again] as I try to draw folks attention to my book being featured in Sam's Club. Risky,risky,risky. AND I'm running a contest. What if no one enters? What if I fall on my face - totally!What if I've just spent quite a bit on prizes and they aren't needed? I blogged about it yesterday http;//marionstroud.blogspot.com You're in a large company ... but GOD!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Marion. Coming from you that's real encouragement.
      I have two of your books now (one that I've returned to over many years) and God speaks through them to me. Praying for your latest adventure out of the boat.

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  2. Helen,
    I posted this on my blog yesterday just for you. I mean it. I hope God will convince yoou today just how valuable and precious you are in His eyes. Enjoy.

    Hey You . . .

    I’m writing to you, the one reading this post right now.

    Yes, you!

    No one else.

    Just you.

    Jesus stood before Pilate just for you.

    Jesus suffered unmerciful condemnation from the very people He came to save, just for you.

    Jesus was betrayed, just for you.

    Jesus allowed Himself to be whipped and scourged so that pieces of the flesh in His back flew off Roman soldiers’ whips just for you.

    Jesus allowed thorns from a horrible crown to scratch and dig into the flesh in his skull, just for you.

    The Creator of the heavens suffered insults and humiliation, just for you.

    Jesus watched in agony and unbearable sadness as His closest friends abandoned Him, just for you.

    Jesus lugged His own cross through the Jerusalem streets to Calvary’s hill, just for you.

    Jesus crawled on the cross from which He would hang until He died, just for you.

    Jesus was crucified on a tree He planted and nurtured and watered and watched grow, just for you.

    All the blood drained out of Jesus’ tortured body on the cross, just for you.

    Jesus came back from the grave and conquered death, just for you.

    Jesus created a beautiful mansion in heaven, just for you.

    For you.

    Just for you.

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    Replies
    1. I've just posted on your blog, Steven.
      Thank you so much. You made me cry.

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  3. Brilliant post, Helen. I love your openness, desire to serve, to be all that God is calling and equipping you to be, and recognition that the big things we have in mind are still much smaller than His plans for us. Oh, and I love the quotes. I'm a huge Max Lucado and C.S Lewis fan - great taste you have! You shine for the Lord far more than you can know. We readers can testify to that. Much love and every blessing in Him :) xxx

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  4. ...and Phil Wickham! We have much in common I think!
    Thanks Joy. Sometimes I'm reading something and it just leaps off the page.
    Lots of love and God bless you too. x

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  5. Helen, Helen!!! I'm gonna say this as it is "Start Today"! That thing that's holding you back is not from God!!! Conquer it and start. We'll cover you in prayer. We see your giftings and potential - you are right to have this calling because God birthed it in you. Bless him back and respond by starting. Honestly you've got what it takes.

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  6. Helen, Helen! I'm gonna say this as it is "Start today". That thing that's holding you back is not from God! God has birthed this gifting in you so start:-) It will glorify God and bless so many. Come against the the thing that's stopping you and trust God to direct your path. Proverbs. 3:5

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Rowena! Thank you. That means a lot to me.

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  7. I heard a pastor's message Sunday on television, talking about a father's desire for his son to be cured of a "dumb spirit". He asked JESUS after stating the problem, "...if You can do anything, ...help us." (Mark 9:22]. I love JESUS' answer: "IF"...? "[Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes." (vs. 23). And then as we all do in our lives when faced with doubt and fear confess "Lord, I believe!" But notice what the father says after his confession of belief: "[Constantly] help my weakness of faith!" (verse 24). THANKS so much Helen for your continuing with the 'plain talking' of what GOD is showing in your life and relationship. I LOVE reading a sister's gospel thoughts.

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