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Stability: Our Calling Scott Lyons 6/26/2012
For years and years I have wrestled with spiritual discontentment—a discontentment with myself—reading about such people as Mother Teresa and Francis of Assisi. I wanted to do something radical for Christ, something big, something that made a difference. I wanted to be a reformer, an innovator, a somebody. Vanity! I felt as if the life I led was unsatisfactory in the mind of God. Did I disappoint him? Did God think I was lukewarm or lazy? There have been men and women who give us excellent examples of living for Jesus. We are meant to follow their examples because they followed Christ. But as we look to them and follow Christ, we follow him not as they did but as we are meant to do it, in a wonderfully unique way.
My path to holiness—and yours, I suspect—is more along the lines of another exemplar of the faith, Térèse of Lisieux. This young lady, who died at 24, was known as the “Little Flower.” Her “little way” to holiness consisted in living simply: ordinary acts done with extraordinary love. On this path, sanctification occurs at ordinary times, exactly where you are, because that is the place to which you have been called. And this is glorious, extraordinary.
Jesus set before me the book of nature. I understand how all the flowers God has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understand that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers. So it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He has created smaller ones and those must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be. (Térèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul)
You are part of God’s glory. He created you to be so, not to glorify yourself but to reveal God. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, said, “The glory of God is man fully alive” (Against Heresies, 4,20,7). This does not necessarily entail going somewhere or being something, but it does entail showing up and showing great love. It requires you to turn away from your anger and toward your spouse and children, to forgive those who have hurt you, to turn away from fear and run into the unknown of love. Yes, it demands that you be who you are meant to be, but this cannot be realized apart from love. It might mean that you do some great thing with the life God has given you, or it might mean that you do what others see as menial and small. Be a blessing wherever you are. Be an epiphany as you live faithfully in your place, doing whatever you do—no matter how small it seems—with great love. Do this, not because you seek to be something but because you are seeking God’s Kingdom, his life.
What does this translate into for you? I do not know because I do not know you. Even if I did, I probably would not know. But you are meant to be an icon of God, whether you proclaim Christ abroad or you proclaim him while sweeping the floor or while you make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for your children. You are meant to be God’s child. Learn from a tree: Planted, it grows in its place. It does not rush here and there; it does not attempt to be something it isn’t. It is what it is meant to be, and it draws all men to God because of it.
Be who you are meant to be—an icon, a little flower, a tree—where you are. Be fully alive so that God may be glorified in you. Decrease. Be at peace. Give thanks. Pray always.
“Using the New Living Translation in sermon preparation helps to generate ‘aha’s! from the congregation. Where there may be obscurity, it can help turn the light on in the hearts and minds of listeners.”
Arthur Jackson Judson Baptist Church Oak Park, Illinois