It seemed a simple walk into Heaven. I didn’t notice blatant extravagance, but I definitely knew where we were. Peace radiated through the gates. Just two steps inside God met my family and greeted us, personally. Individually. He knew us well.
To my husband, He exclaimed praise for working so hard, for being such an excellent example for our children and our community.
To my children, He lavished encouragement that they never stopped trying, that they, too, did the best that they could. He was proud of their efforts.
When my turn dawned, His face changed. Formerly welcoming and friendly, the Creator’s holy features grew downcast. The twinkle of kindness left His eyes and sour disappointment replaced gentleness. “And what have you done? You’ve wasted so much time, so many gifts that I gave you. You have little to show for your long life. Wasted. Tell me: what have you done?”
I felt my husband stir and, in my not-yet-awake state, I share this dream with him. Simple. Succinct. Factual. I remember him saying how horrible it was; how that wouldn’t happen to me. I remember thinking it accurate.
Scripture offers a beautiful, though be it confounding paradox. Actually, there are many of them. Consider:
- the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16; Mark 9:35)
- humble servants will be exalted (James 4:10; Mark 9:35)
- the week shall be strong and the strong shall be weak (2 Corinthians 12:10)
- those give shall receive (Acts 20:35)
- gain becomes loss and loss becomes gain (Philippians 3:7-8)
- freedom comes through surrender (Romans 6:18-20)
We know that God thinks differently than we do. According to the list above, it seems He frequently thinks in ways opposite to human logic. Is it possible, then, that those of us who believe we’ve done nothing worthy here on earth have actually done more than others? Is it possible that those who believe themselves to be dispensable, mundane, unimportant, are actually making great impact for His Kingdom?
I know many people who ache to do great things for God, but who feel stuck. They’re stay-at-home moms. Handicapped or ill. Caretakers. Elderly. Working to pay off debt. Whatever it is, something holds them where they are, captive to a specific situation or station. If this is you, take a deep breath and remember that God doesn’t always see things the way we do.
You may believe you’re doing nothing, but small things done with great love can build a tremendous legacy. The diapers you change, the rooms that you clean, the homes that you build and the families that you protect, these can have eternal impact! Don’t dismiss them as unimportant to God. People are of utmost importance to God, and when we serve them, we are serving Him.
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’
– Matthew 25:34-40 (NET)
I don’t know what sparked this weekend’s dream. I don’t feel worthless, lazy, apathetic or overlooked (the occasional bad day and hormonal imbalances excepted). I’m sure I could be doing more for God’s kingdom, but I’m also sure I’m not sitting idle. Maybe the dream wasn’t an evaluation as much as it was an encouragement and a challenge.
If you feel your work is small, think again. Evaluate your life from outside yourself and your own expectations. Take a look at it in light of God’s great paradoxes.
If you think your work is big, think again. It may, in fact, be big. Just ensure that it’s big because He has made it so, not simply because you have. What you believe to be so important, may lose its glimmer when viewed from God’s perspective.
If you’re really doing nothing for God – I mean, truly living for yourself rather than for Him — change directions. Start doing something for Him, for others. You’re not promised tomorrow. You have no idea how much time you have left to make a difference. Stop waiting. Don’t waste your life.
Talk to me.
Which of the Scriptural paradoxes frustrate you the most? Why?