Why Bigger is Not Necessarily Better

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Adrian van Kaam writes that “our response to our eternal call can only occur in the actual situations of everyday life.”  Yet a normal response to a phrase like “eternal call” is to think of our loftiest plans and goals for our life.  What is my eternal call?  Surely it isn’t found in the midst of dishes and diapers and data entry.

Formative spirituality invites us to see our eternal call, which originates in the heart of God rather than our own passions or wisdom, in the smallest moments.  The daily moments of today are the setting of our eternal call.  It isn’t tomorrow, or five time zones away, or when we finally get noticed, or when we build our “platform.”  Our eternal call can be discovered and then gently lived moment by moment by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the love of God and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  .

We live in a time when the celebrity culture is a strong force in our experience of Christianity.  People we know publish books, pastors we love grow mega-churches, blogs we follow get noticed and suddenly have 10,000 followers.  It has become almost normative to think that in order to live out our eternal call, we need bigger, grander, more.  It is easy to be fooled into thinking that bigger and more is a sign of God’s blessing and presence with us.

Yet the Kingdom of God as preached by Jesus was compared to things like a mustard seed and the yeast worked into flour to make bread.  Jesus seems to not only accept that the mundane and ordinary depict how and where God is at work but he seems to run from the bigger and more that often lure us in.  Calling down fire from heaven, seeking the places of honor, all the kingdoms of their world and their glory, all these and more are rejected by Christ who follows and offers a narrow path.

Robert Morneau, author of Spiritual Direction: Principles and Practices, writes that “reverence begins with small matters or it never begins at all.  A spirituality of inches and seconds is an excellent starting point for a life of reverence.”  A life of reverence does not begin with the vast but the minute and the ordinary.  We are invited by the writer of Hebrews to live with both gratitude and reverence in response to the reality of the unshakable kingdom we have received.  Reverence for the smallest among us leads us to deeper dispositions of gratitude in our daily lives.

Where is God inviting you to deeper reverence in your everyday life?   In what ways are you more aware of God’s presence and life in his created order when you attend to awe in the smallest situations or with the smallest, or least impressive by worldly standards, people in your life?

Elizabeth Peterson is a regular contributor to the Soul Care Collective.

Image Attribution: Tolola / Thinkstock

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Elizabeth currently lives and loves in Wilmore, Kentucky, where her husband Joel is pursuing a Master’s in Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. She is the mother of three young children, Isaiah (6), Asher (3) and Norah (6 months). She loves to paint, write, go to public libraries after living without them for far too long, engage with women from other places and other faiths and dream about what life after seminary might look like. She doesn’t yet have a handle on Twitter, literally or figuratively, but you can find a rare blog at www.takingshapeslowly.wordpress.com.

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