When my husband and I lived in Ohio, we were members of a beloved church with two parking lot exits. At each exit stood a sign at attention, like twin sentinels who knew the importance of the words they guarded. The sign read:
You are now entering the mission field.
Of course, each sign’s message conveyed the truth that the mission field is just past the church driveway. It is right through our suburban neighborhoods and in the downtown locations of our cities. It is across oceans in faraway countries, of course. But it’s also across backyard fences and across the dinner table. It’s across the baseball diamond and the swim team meeting and the public high school parking lot. It is anywhere one is called to bring the hopeful gospel message through words or actions.
I firmly believe every mission field is valuable and important, and I always appreciated our church’s reminder that it’s much closer than one might think. But I sometimes struggle to believe the small of my mission field is as valuable as your big one. I have struggled to believe the small of my anything is as valuable as it would be if it was bigger.
I’ve strained my neck looking over at the prettier backyard or the got-it-together-better family or the bigger blog wondering if mine is messier or smaller because I’m not doing enough, giving enough, or reaching-for-the-stars enough. I’ve resented the smallness in my life and wondered if it’s that way because I’m doing something wrong.
Let me tell you a little secret: The book writing journey of the past year has made me struggle with my smallness in more ways than ever before. You might thing the opposite would be true, that a book deal guarantees you’ve reached a certain level of popularity, importance, and big-ness. Um, nooo. Of course, it has brought joy in a dream fulfilled and contentment in crafting a message that is the theme of my life. But it has also brought the You Need to Be Bigger shadow so close it keeps me up at night. It has made me strain my neck so hard it aches.
So like never before, I need a reminder to not only be thankful for my smallness but to celebrate it. After all, didn’t God choose small–a newborn baby–to dwell with us?
I need a reminder to stop thinking the only mission fields that matters are the big ones. Those do, of course, but not exclusively. After all, doesn’t God rejoice when single lost sheep are found?
It seems that if I want to really know the holy, ordinary work of my holy, ordinary hands, I need to kneel down small and get closer to the ground rather than strive for higher, bigger places. After all, didn’t Jesus get down low to wash feet and pick up children?
These days I am careful not to color the word small in negative shades, as if it were something to run from our escape . . . It is the small place where God delights to make his home. Small things don’t always turn into big things. But all things begin small, especially in the kingdom of God. Acorns become oak trees. Embryos become President. Life starts with a breath. Love starts with hello.
Tuesday reminds me to accept the beauty of smallness, hiddenness, and the secret work of Christ in the deepest part of who I am. I want to let him come out of me in any way he wants, no matter how it may seem to me–whether that be in one big way or a million little ways.” Emily P. Freeman, Simply Tuesday
My mission field is wherever Christ wants to come out of me–in one big way or a million small ones. My work is to do the next thing that Jesus asks for whomever he asks. Small is a gift, and my Savior desires to keep company with me in ways that are close-by and small-sized. When I start noticing those, then the dreadful You Need to Be Bigger shadow falls away.
My life isn’t small because I’m doing something wrong. It’s small because I am small living in praise and wonder of a big God.
When I start paying attention to this, I find my value not toward that which sits on the horizon but that which sits within my two hands.
When I am thankful for this, I find rest for my too-hurried heart and soul.
And when I celebrate this, it’s no small wonder I find Jesus.
When I discovered Emily’s blog in 2008, I lived on a tropical island that was awesome but sometimes lonely too. At a time when I had young children and a military husband who was gone as much as home, Emily’s blog became a kind companion to me. And still today, her writing is a friend who makes me more comfortable in my own skin and more confident of my place in Christ. Her new book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World, is all this and more. If you are tired of the Live big! Dream big! Do More! mantras that run circles around this fast-paced planet, this book is true rest as it encourages you to know your value and Jesus’ presence in the small and ordinary. This is the book I needed to read forever ago but am thankful to have now. Also, I am a slow non-fiction reader, but I devoured this one quickly. It is meaty yet incredibly engaging, and I will be re-visiting its message again and again.
Simply Tuesday releases today! Find it wherever books are sold. Also, purchase it today and receive a *free* Small Group Companion Guide! Details here. Find out more about the book–as well as view free videos from Emily–right here.