God Does Not Call Us to be Great

God Does Not Call Us to be Great

God does not call us to be great, but to be faithful.

The kitchen sink and I have an ongoing relationship. No matter what I prepare and serve, no matter how often we eat or if it was a royal mess or not, the dishes and I meet afterwards. As a small girl, I thought washing the dishes was second to a jail sentence, but now I find the warm soapy water and big picture window looking out under our sprawling oak tree a lovely pause from my busy day. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that work isn’t always a punishment. Sometimes what I learn in the process is much longer lasting than the simple chore ever was. Now I am training my five children to wash dishes too, and clearly they haven’t discovered the joy of a neatly stacked drain rack or the satisfaction that comes from a job well done. I’m still carefully scanning each dish as I put them away, checking between the fork tines that sometimes still hide dried egg yolk and must be redone.

While washing dishes is now a happy chore of mine, there are new areas of life where I’m still surveying a pile of messiness that feels daunting. Attitudes. Habits. As I walk my children toward maturity, I’m finding I need these reruns to re-calibrate my own heart. You know the moment you see your child vent angry words when a sibling crashed their Lego tower? I have those same emotions when my children “bump” my carefully prepared creations. Dirty foot prints over a freshly mopped floor. Yelled insults minutes after we discussed again about speaking kindly.

As a girl, I dreamed of doing big “important” things. I tumbled on the gym floor and pictured myself at the Olympics, easily winning gold. When I married my childhood sweetheart, I was determined to be the best wife ever. As my first baby came along, I cradled him close and smelled heaven on his breath, and purposed to be an incredible mamma to this child. I had no idea that I would struggle with anger, until I found myself stretched to the max with young children’s attitudes and processing deep grief. Suddenly, I wasn’t Olympic gold material, but a teary, confused mother who saw needs in every direction.

How could I do anything great for God, from this messy place?

The truth is, it boils down, like the gallons of maple sap my son is now tapping from our maple trees. Gallons and gallons of water-like sap are collected, drop by drop, and poured into the pot to cook down to shockingly small amounts of that sweet amber syrup. He remains undaunted, daily collecting the sap and showing me with gleaming eyes what he just poured off his tapping jars. When he sees that watery liquid, he envisions the pancakes piled high, doused in his hard-earned maple syrup. I watch him and smile deep inside, because this is us.

Day in and day out, God calls us to follow Him.

We are called to open His word and invite the purity of His life into our own souls, so prone to pride and selfishness. Perhaps it is because I lost my dad when I was just 12, or maybe it is a simple human tendency to feel that God is a bit distant and nebulous. As I have grown, I find I am constantly reaching to cross this breech in my heart, to see God as real and close in my life. When I lean on my accomplishments to be what earns my right to this relationship, I find myself in a constant whirlpool of frustration and anger. Amazingly, it is into this chaos that God reaches and offers me His hand of love.

In chapter 10, Isaiah tells the story of God’s love over our humanity in a powerful way. “Behold, the Lord is the one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, destroying tempest, like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters…” After a disgusting portrayal of human filth and sin, he continues: “to whom will He teach knowledge, and to whom will He explain the message… The word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 10 ESV) For some reason I always viewed this verse in the context of child training, since so much basic repetition is required. I teach my children things again and again, and when the plate still has dried breakfast on it, I put it back in the sink and explain again how to wash the plates correctly. Lately, however, I find myself hearing the repeated call to love more fully, to connect with a child when I feel like retreating. Learning to be faithful isn’t just for the five year old- it is for the mama chafing in the harness, for the single girl yearning to be married, for the man facing unfair job situations.

Being faithful is a call to all of us, in those places of our hearts that hurt the most and seem the most unseen.

Just like outside the trees stand naked and bare in the cold winter wind,  seasons come and go. Sometimes we must plod on day after day without any visual results. We walk by faith, because our God does things when we cannot see. Like the weary children of Israel, we walk through desert seasons of where we trust blindly.  We look for a city whose maker and builder is God. We look for growth that only God can do in our hearts.

God does not call us to be great. He calls us to be faithful.

As I push the start button on the washer, it’s just me and God. No audience stands ready to break out in applause, just a family expecting to find clean laundry in their dressers. I am learning I must watch for a bitter heart, angry that I’m STILL picking up the shoes tossed haphazardly in the hall. But it is here, in this sneaky little place in our heart wanting to be noticed publicly, that God calls us. He calls us to an audience of One. He reaches for our hand, for our heart, and asks us to lavishly love just because.

HE is why we live and breathe. HE is why we serve our families, do our jobs, and love people around us with excellence. We love because HE first loved us, and out of that place of deep security and acceptance, everything else flows. God does not call us to be great. He calls us to be faithful.

In those places of daily plodding, His banner over us is love.

If we look beyond the weariness or monotony of our tasks, we discover the joy He has for us here. If we listen carefully as we cross the Red Sea, we might just hear the song of victory waiting for us on the other side.

 He calls us to faithfulness, not because He is a hard task master, but because He loves us deeply. He sees exactly how to help our roots grow deepest. Just like the kitchen sink and I meet daily, where needs and dishes are piled high, I’m finding God’s love is always here, waiting, smiling.

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