Big Things

There’s a phrase I hate in the Christian subculture.  And it’s one I haven’t heard in a long time. It’s been about ten years since someone said to me: “I think I’m supposed to do big things for God,” or in encouragement, “Micha, I think you’re going to do big things for God.”

I heard it again last week, on the lips of a dear-hearted freshman girl, striving to serve God in first two months of college and feeling like a failure. She had been told she was gifted (which she is) and that she would “do great things for God.” I know from experience, friends, that the abstraction of those words is confusing and rarely leads to anything but self-centered striving and guilt.

I don’t want to blame Texas. But I’ll go ahead and do that. After all, I can’t deny the culture of Christianity that exists here, the Christianese alive and well that I hoped had dissipated while I’d been away in the land of the Post-Christian culture.

I know what it meant when I felt I was supposed to do “big things for God.” It meant I would be a missionary in a “dark place” and I would suffer. It meant thousands of people would come to know Christ because of me. It meant that if my life looked normal, just like any one else’s life, I was a failure.

When I didn’t move to Kenya (as had been my life plan up till 10 years ago) and instead went to the northeast to pursue writing (self-centered art!), I felt the ache of that choice. Then, when I married a man who wasn’t a pastor or a missionary I knew the possibility of “big things” was gone, despite the fact that I had prayed and felt God’s peace about all of my life decisions.

Do you know what nine years has taught me? God’s big things are different from our big things. Our big things are obsessed with impressive distances, numbers and programs. Our big things involve thousands of converts at the altar and miraculous healings before crowds.

God’s big things are individual lives healed: the neighbor who makes sure the elderly shut-in is getting food, being bathed; the child adopted into a loving home. God’s big things are found in the Beatitudes: making peace, being with the broken hearted, walking alongside the meek, longing for and working toward rightness in the world. God’s big things are the peanut butter and jellies handed out the window to the hungry man on the corner.  God’s big things are the professionals who do their work in the knowledge that God loves creating and creation. God’s big things are when both the most vulnerable and most wealthy and secure can respond to the same message of good news: that Jesus loves them, that he has already rescued them (whether from their physical neediness or their material corruption).

Of course it’s a big thing when a missionary gives away her life to a different culture, when she cares for orphaned babies who suffer from life-sucking diseases. Of course it’s a big thing when God uses a pastor whose words can strike the hearts of thousands and bring them to a place of new-found faith. But it’s just as big when a mother does the deep work of raising children to love the things God loves. It’s just as big when a piano teacher shares her love for music with another who will also grasp the beauty of the song. When a heart is released to God’s movement, God will use what is already available to do his work.

And God’s work is always big.

  • http://joannadobson.wordpress.com/ Joanna

    Absolutely brilliantly well said. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Thank you so much, Joanna.

  • http://gravatar.com/ajt04a ajpittman

    I am also not a fan of “big things” mentality, especially not as it appears in Texas. I am an adjunct professor in the Bible at a Christian college in Abilene, (Bible department+Christian university+Abilene, Texas = fluent in Christianese), so I hear this all the time. In my experience, its especially common among women, though I’m not entirely sure why that is.

    Stumbled upon your blog not too long ago – I love it!

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      That’s so interesting that it’s common among women. I’d love to think about that more…By the way, I went to school in Abilene! At HSU. Though we always referred to ACU as the “real” college. :) So glad you found the blog. Thanks!

  • Linda Carleton

    I love you Micha and God is using your gifts. I can’t wait to meet your children.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Dean, thank you. I’m so looking forward to giving you a giant hug. Just signed August up for the “Posse Kids Corral”…He’s pumped! :)

  • Linda Carleton

    I love you Micha and God is using your gifts. I can’t wait to meet your children.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Dean, thank you. I’m so looking forward to giving you a giant hug. Just signed August up for the “Posse Kids Corral”…He’s pumped! :)

  • Vince Morris

    Well said.

    You may also appreciate the 2011 Commencement Address at Wheaton College in Illinois by Lisa Beamer, wife of Todd Beamer (9/11 hero–”Let’s Roll!”). She confirms your impulse of the ordinariness of life and the way God inverts “big things” and “faithful things”, rewards faithfulness and exalts the ordinary:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZcHfz8CqIg

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Thanks for the link, Vince. I’m looking forward to watching it. “Exalts the ordinary.” Love that.

  • Vince Morris

    Well said.

    You may also appreciate the 2011 Commencement Address at Wheaton College in Illinois by Lisa Beamer, wife of Todd Beamer (9/11 hero–”Let’s Roll!”). She confirms your impulse of the ordinariness of life and the way God inverts “big things” and “faithful things”, rewards faithfulness and exalts the ordinary:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZcHfz8CqIg

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Thanks for the link, Vince. I’m looking forward to watching it. “Exalts the ordinary.” Love that.

  • http://www.seeprestonblog.com Preston

    “And God’s work is always big.”

    The day I gave up THE PLAN and surrendered to a walk, to a journey, was the most confusing, beautiful, wraps you in the cloth of joy days I have ever experienced.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Always happy to see you around here, Preston. Thanks.

  • http://www.seeprestonblog.com Preston

    “And God’s work is always big.”

    The day I gave up THE PLAN and surrendered to a walk, to a journey, was the most confusing, beautiful, wraps you in the cloth of joy days I have ever experienced.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Always happy to see you around here, Preston. Thanks.

  • http://gravatar.com/livingpalm Tamara @ Living Palm

    Yes and Amen.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Thanks friend.

  • Lauren

    this was exactly what i needed today. and written so succintly and beautifully. thank you.

  • Lauren

    this was exactly what i needed today. and written so succintly and beautifully. thank you.

  • http://annieathome.com Annie

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Micha! My heart really resonates with what you’ve written. Thank you.

  • http://annieathome.com Annie

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Micha! My heart really resonates with what you’ve written. Thank you.

  • Mollie

    This has been my life the past month or so. For several years I’ve been mourning the girl I was and my “grand plans” to be a missionary and set the world on fire for God. I work in an office now (actually just down the hall from ajpittman, who commented above!) and since I left college 12 years ago I’ve felt like I missed my chance to do God’s will. But the last month has really been an awakening for me, as I see that my calling may have changed, that God hasn’t given up on me, and that I personally (and not just as a part of something larger) may still have work to do in the kingdom, in this job, in this place, in this church, etc.

  • Mollie

    This has been my life the past month or so. For several years I’ve been mourning the girl I was and my “grand plans” to be a missionary and set the world on fire for God. I work in an office now (actually just down the hall from ajpittman, who commented above!) and since I left college 12 years ago I’ve felt like I missed my chance to do God’s will. But the last month has really been an awakening for me, as I see that my calling may have changed, that God hasn’t given up on me, and that I personally (and not just as a part of something larger) may still have work to do in the kingdom, in this job, in this place, in this church, etc.

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    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Thank you so much, Joanna.

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    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      That’s so interesting that it’s common among women. I’d love to think about that more…By the way, I went to school in Abilene! At HSU. Though we always referred to ACU as the “real” college. :) So glad you found the blog. Thanks!

  • http://www.sarahstirman.com/ Sarah S.

    Want you to know that I come back to this blog post again and again. I’m a 40-something mom who has happily put me on hold to be a wife and mom and volunteer at my church and the kids’ schools. An enthusiastic, well-meaning gentleman at a church I used to attend tells me EVERY. TIME. he sees me, “I can’t wait to see what great things God is going to do in your life. I just know God is going to do great things through you!” Sweet, I guess, but I just started thinking, “What has He been doing in my life? Is raising babies not enough for God? Changing diapers in the nursery at church doesn’t count for anything? Those HOURS that I have spent on youth trips — praying and laughing and losing sleep with teens — nada?” I know people are doing more than me and other things — but not all of us will do worldly great things. But all of us can do God’s great things.

  • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

    Thanks friend.


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