Life takes many twists and turns and I’m finding, in my older age, that happens more often than what I like to deal with. In fact, I HATE when things don’t turn out like I plan. I’m better at navigating it now, but it still burns my britches. You know, aggravates and frustrates me. I never know in those times whether to fight for what I want or to surrender gracefully. These days, my fight is pretty worn out so I usually surrender. And that’s where I am today; In a frustrating place of having to exercise some radical acceptance about some things in my life.
My destiny has not played out the way I imagined it, but I understand now, destiny is not an actual destination but a heart that gives itself over to whatever the Lord puts in our hands and to do it to His glory. Big, small, grand, simple, hard, easy, whatever the case, to surrender to that and be faithful. It’s in that faithfulness that we fulfill our destiny. I always imagined it a grand place where all my struggling will be rewarded and I’ll finally be who I was created to be. Although that destination will come when I see Jesus face to face. But while I am here, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)
As a young girl, my eyes were filled with visions of grand accomplishments and lofty goals. Impossible was not a word in my vocabulary then. I was idealistic and still am in some ways. When I was 10 years old, I saw my first Jerry Lewis Telethon. If you don’t know what that is, you can Google it. In short, it was an annual event on Labor Day, coast to coast on every TV network for the duration of 24 hours, and the entire time was spent watching various organizations come onto the show to donate money for the cause and research of muscular dystrophy. Children with the disease would appeal to those watching to donate. There was a variety of entertainment and movie stars, athletes, and “who’s who” of every industry that would come to support the cause.
The thing that locked me in every year was their attempt to meet the financial goal for that year. A panel of phone operators stood by to take donations by phone. There was a grand total board and every time donations came in, large, small, local or nationwide, it was added to that total. Whenever that total changed in a big way they would roll the timpani and the new total would appear. I was on the edge of my seat as we approached the end of the 24 hours each year praying they would meet their goal. At the very end, the final timpani would roll and the grand total would appear and they never failed every year to meet their goal. It was exhilarating! It was that year that I realized I could do something to contribute to that goal and I had an idea. When I look back I realize it was a God idea.
I can’t recall if it was that year or the next that I rallied the kids in my neighborhood, gave them my vision and we set out to do yard work to collect money for Jerry’s kids. We raked yards, we picked up trash whatever we could do to earn money. We donated the money we had earned and even got our picture in the newspaper for what we had done. The rush from being able to give that money was incredible and more than the money, knowing that we were making a difference was the biggest rush of all.
Of course, I know now that money we collected couldn’t even put a dent in the research. Nonetheless, we felt just as important to the telethon as all the organizations that gave millions. That is one memory that I go back to in my childhood that helps me locate myself again when I feel lost. The crazy thing is, it was not a huge thought out plan with lots of preparation. It was more of an unction or inkling that I knew we just had to do it. That’s not to say that planning and preparation are not important, but to a bunch of kids, we just went for it! And we had great success.
It wasn’t grand although we felt it was at the time, it was an accomplishment of greatness. And it’s right here where I want to compare these two words- GRAND & GREAT.
GRAND: magnificent and imposing in appearance, size, or style; large or ambitious in scope or scale; denoting the largest or most important item of its kind.
GREAT: of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average; of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average; used to indicate that someone or something particularly deserves a specified description.
Grand denotes size; Great denotes quality that is above the norm. These descriptives can be ascribed to who you are and what you do by others or your own heart. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man and he did some grand things, but it was the greatness of the man that spoke louder than even his accomplishments. We know he was lead by the Spirit of God to the task assigned to him. God supplied the power and passion, Dr. King supplied the surrender.
Jesus himself described greatness in this way:
Matthew 20:25-27 New King James Version (NKJV)
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—.”
A great man/woman is not one who uses their brawn to affect change but one who does what is righteous and just and exercises their authority for the good of others. God has given men and women in power a responsibility to the people in their charge not to control them but to serve them. In our day, we have a lot of power being wielded in every realm for the purpose of agenda, propaganda, and control but this is not the way Jesus told us to live. He told us to be a servant to others. How that plays out in your life is between you and God, but this is His way.
There are many experiences in our lives that will cause us feelings of defeat and failure and those moments could pull us into the vortex of self-pity and despair. Even feeling like whatever God has for us to do in this life is over. However, times like those call for a change in perspective. A shift in what we consider great for our lives. The lust of our eyes and flesh and the pride of life can lead us into pursuits that God never called us into. One of the things I do to a fault is to evaluate those things in my own life on a constant basis. I say, “to a fault” because I probably over-analyze. But I’m always listening for God’s voice to guide me and dying to the Grand things to be faithful to the great things.
Just as with John the Baptist, King David, Esther, and a host of many others in the Bible, God will get me where he wants me in due time, and in this season and the next, I will be faithful to whatever he puts in my hand.
Let Christ be Glorified in all!