Feeling Insignificant? BE ENCOURAGED


Several years ago, I wrote and published one of my six books. It is called THE GREATEST LESSON OF ALL: Answering God’s Call, a book based on the Bible’s book of Jonah. Sadly, as with all my other books, virtually nobody expressed any interest in it. Sure, I do virtually no marketing, promotion, or publicity. I don’t have the budget, skills, talent, gift, desire, or leading at least thus far. I pray and wait – and wait. I figure I’ll learn to trust the Lord to distribute the books for me. So far, so very few people have read them. Even friends have not helped to get the word out. How very insignificant I feel sometimes. Sure it’s humbling in a good way. It’s also hard, really hard, since I pour my heart into my work for the Lord. Not so very long ago I remembered one of the chapters in the book I had written. It contained a vital lesson for me – and for all of us. Sometimes those of us who know and love and follow the Lord feel so very insignificant, don’t we? Ah, but if we would only see what God can see……..

This is not one of my usual quick and short Daily Inspiration devotionals. It’s a bit longer, but I believe it’s well worth the read if you could use the encouragement I so need. You can find more information on the book when you click HERE.

Chain Reaction

You feel so insignificant, don’t you? In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard for you to believe you even matter. Or matter much anyway. After all, you look around you at what everyone else is doing with their lives, and you just can’t help it. You just can’t help how you feel. When are you ever going to get around to doing anything really big with your life, right?

Your friend Luis is racing cars and donating millions to a children’s charity. Your high school class president Sallie coordinates international adoptions for special needs kids. Your mother, even at the age of 78, volunteers five days a week at a rehab hospital for paralyzed kids. Your baby brother, yeah, the one who just about failed his way out of high school, writes award-winning books that get translated into all sorts of languages. And as though that’s not enough, his books give hope to people whom the rest of the world has given up on. Talk about significance.

And you, well, what can you say, right? You made honors roll in high school. But that was ages ago. You married a really good guy. But he passed away two years ago. You used to volunteer at the animal shelter. But you couldn’t handle all the emotions that went with the job. You decided to go back to work, but your job is dull, boring, and does nothing more than help you bring home a paycheck to pay your rent and keep your lights on. Your husband’s life insurance policy takes care of the rest. Is this really all there is?

Then, just when you figured your life couldn’t be more filled with monotony and same old, same old, go to work, come home, cook dinner, do your Bible study, call your friend Betty to check in on her now that she is a widow also, well, you get the letter in the mail that just drives home how insignificant you really feel.

Some random person from some random town some random distance away who says he is a random friend of a random person you met at a random restaurant long ago writes to tell you he read an article about you in some random newspaper concerning the award you won forever ago for teaching foreign languages to students of the Bible. That was back in the day when you were still teaching. Now all you do is translate random textbooks for a random company into multiple languages. In the back of a beat-up, old, stuffy, building with not a window in the entire office suites. At least you get a paycheck, right?

So what does this random guy want? He wants you to teach him another language before he goes off on some random mission trip because that is where he says God has called him. Talk about an insignificant letter in the hands of an insignificant woman in an insignificant life. That’s what you think anyway, isn’t it? But then, you must not understand what God does when He sets up a chain reaction. If you could see six years into the future, you would fully understand.

Because what you do not realize is that the man who wrote the letter is a pastor who will travel to a foreign country to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an untold number of people without a translator. God plans to use your language skills and your unique ability to teach the Bible in this particular language to enable this man to preach in a country across the world at a three-night event that will ultimately result in thousands of people spending eternity in heaven rather than hell. Five of the people saved on the third night of the revival will plant churches in that nation, and a sixth person will move to another country and start church planting there. When you agree to teach this man, you will be a key piece in a chain reaction you never could have imagined. God’s chain reaction.

Can’t relate? You live at an assisted living facility. You feel too old to be of any use anymore. You just live your life meal to meal, activity to activity, family visit to family visit, and, of course, pill to pill, doctor to doctor, walker to chair, up, down, with the walker, out of the walker, sit, stay, get up, that’s all folks. Until you discover one day that that time you hugged a young volunteer with tears in her eyes that she was desperately trying to hide was the day you helped save her life. She was thinking about going back to drugs and prostitution that day, and your hug helped her to remember she was loved and didn’t need to go back to the deadly way of life she had left behind. Chain reaction? Two weeks later, she stood up in church and sang a solo full of God’s hope while 10 visiting foreign exchange students from a country where Christianity is not allowed were moved by God through her song and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. Yes, chain reaction. God’s chain reaction.

Oh, yeah, and do you remember that day God put it on your heart to leave an extra big tip for the waitress at the restaurant you went to as you passed through town on yet another boring business trip? Well, it turns out that extra money kept her from getting evicted two days later and ending up homeless. Chain reaction? Turns out she was a writer. Wrote up an article for the local newspaper about how God used the tip you gave her to keep her off the streets, and the article happened to land in the hands of a literary agent. The agent contacted her, and she ended up with a book contract for the book she had dreamed of writing for three years. Yeah, the book that would ultimately help a young couple realize that starting an orphanage really was God’s plan for their lives. Can you picture all the kids who would be rescued from lives of being sex trafficked and now have a place to go? Yeah, chain reaction. God’s chain reaction.

So you think you’re so insignificant. You forget that one little act of obedience, or big act of obedience, or whatever sized act of obedience, can be combined with somebody else’s little act of obedience, or super huge act of obedience, and then be combined with someone else’s, and off it goes. Chain reaction.

And to think it all begins with someone saying yes to God instead of no. Yes, with someone arising and going after God’s will instead of cruising off the other way.

The next time you start down the slippery slope and the downward spiral of thinking God didn’t create you for a purpose, and that nothing you could possibly do could bear any significance, consider what can happen with a single act of obedience, whatever size, in the hands of the Lord. Chain reaction. God’s.

Jonah didn’t preach to millions when he got to Nineveh. He didn’t preach a previously prepared one-hour long sermon with five hymns before and five hymns after. He didn’t wear his Sunday best. He didn’t go to seminary. He didn’t stand behind a pulpit in a magnificent church building. He didn’t glance at the clock to make sure he started and ended on time so the congregation wouldn’t get too antsy about their pot roasts burning or missing Sunday afternoon football, for heaven’s sake.

Considering the phenomenal fight Jonah had put up to avoid God’s plan for him, his incredible journey from paying the ship fare to being vomited out of the fish, imagine Jonah’s surprise when he discovered God’s call on his life would boil down to preaching one single sentence to Nineveh. Talk about insignificant, huh? Not at all. Not even close. Because Jonah’s ultimate act of obedience, following all of his disobedience, would set in motion a chain reaction. Yes, a chain reaction. And not a little one at that. A God-sized chain reaction.

Jonah’s preaching could not have lasted more than 60 seconds, depending on how slowly or quickly he spoke. And knowing how desperately Jonah did not want to preach to Nineveh, he more than likely blurted out his little speech as quickly as possible so he could call a cab and book on out of Nineveh. Forget the tithes and offering. He wasn’t about to pass around a collection plate to see if the enemy of his people was in the mood to toss a few coins in the offering plate. Besides, if the truth were told, thanks to Jonah’s little act of obedience, the entire city was about to spring into action. Talk about a chain reaction.

Just eight words. That’s all it took. A few small words. A few bigger ones. Small? Yet. And. Shall. Be. Words that don’t seem to much matter, right? Not so. Forty. Days. Ah, whatever. Just words, huh? Not true. Nineveh. Overthrown. Okay, there you go. Bigger words. Big words, in fact. One word Jonah couldn’t stand, remember? Nineveh. Uh oh. And that mighty big word of warning. Overthrown.

“…Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown (Jonah 3:4).”

Nineveh would be overthrown. Jonah had come to deliver the warning. In 40 days, it would be all over for Nineveh. Thanks to Nineveh’s wickedness. Jonah, meanwhile, probably would have given just about anything to see Nineveh destroyed. But here he was to preach an eight-word sermon to deliver the entire city and its animals. Maybe those eight words weren’t so insignificant after all, eh?

Time for a chain reaction. Starting with God. Moving on to Jonah. Off to the King of Nineveh. Right down to the people. Don’t forget the animals. All beginning with a one-sentence assignment from the Lord to a prophet called Jonah. All starting with the word arise.

This was no small chain reaction. It had been a life or death mission right from the start. Jonah had been called by God to help save an enormous number of lives. Jonah had almost lost his life because of his disobedience. Now the entire city of Nineveh and its animals would lose their lives if Nineveh did not heed Jonah’s one-sentence life or death warning. Obedience anyone? Nineveh was not about to waste a second.

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes (Jonah 3:5-6).”

Chain reaction. God calls Jonah to arise. Jonah runs the wrong way. Jonah returns. God calls Jonah again. Jonah arises and obeys. God delivers a message through Jonah to Nineveh. The King responds to the message and commands absolutely everyone, animals included, to fast and repent. Right from the top, right down to the bottom. What God started passed all the way down right to the barking dogs. If they had any.

“And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands (Jonah 3:7-8).”

So the next time you think what God calls you to do is too insignificant, or what you’re doing right now for the Lord really doesn’t matter, or what you did for God three months ago that hasn’t produced any results as of yet was a waste of your time, consider that your decision to obey could mean the difference between life and death. Even if all God gives you is eight words and a bus ticket to Nineveh.

You can find more information on my book THE GREATEST LESSON OF ALL: Answering God’s Call when you click HERE.

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