“No,” isn’t a word I like to hear. “Wait,” is almost as bad. “Loser” or “failure” is utterly unacceptable. I’m the baby of my family, raised more like an only child since my sister and brother were fourteen and nine years older. I was the definition of a perfectionist.
The valedictorian of my high school class with a 4.0 grade point average, I was devastated to get my first B as a college freshman—philosophy. I’ve never been great at logic. After finishing an associate’s degree in business, I never looked back. All I ever wanted was to be a stay-at-home mom.
When I became a mom, I learned what it meant to fail. Those of you who have tried to get a colicky newborn to stop crying know the feeling. Forget it. I tried everything humanly possible to get my newborn to nurse. She wouldn’t. Have you ever prayed in the wee hours of morning for your child’s fever to break…and God says, “Wait”?
This mom thing—hardest job I’ve ever loved—and none of us are perfect.
Is A Little Enough?
I did a few years as stay-at-home mom…until the bank account sprung a leak and couldn’t hold more than a few cents a month. So I did some little jobs: Mary Kay, convenience store clerk, optometry technician, personal assistant—all of which I viewed as an interruption to the more important tasks of caring for my family, studying my Bible and teaching God’s Word to the minions.
But those little “interruptions” were the chisels used to shape my character and life was the platform God used to display His handiwork. Admittedly, that handiwork was sometimes ugly—not because of the Artist but because of my granite heart that refused to yield to His work.
I viewed the “little” as meaningless, and anything unsacred was unimportant. Now, with the seasoned benefit of hind-sight, I realize those little things yielded some of the grandest blessings and farthest-reaching influences.
“When men do anything for God, the very least thing, they never know where it will end, nor what amount of work it will do for Him. Love’s secret, therefore, is to be always doing things for God, and not to mind because they are such very little ones.” ~ Frederick W. Faber
Are Big Things Too Much?
Have you ever considered how damaging success can be? Think of all the famous people who have died unhappy deaths or lived meaningless lives. Let’s go to Scripture and consider a familiar example of a man God spared from such a fate.
“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more… His brothers said to him, ‘Do you intend to reign over us?’…So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt…Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined…Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.’…[Joseph interpreted the dreams, and] Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’” Genesis 37:5,8,28; 39: 20; 41:15,39-40
Or consider the life of Moses…
“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand…When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…” Exodus 2:11-12,15
In both Joseph’s and Moses’s lives, God graciously allowed them to fail before He used them in a big way. Some believe Joseph was in prison for more than ten years. Moses was demoted from Egyptian prince to lowly shepherd for forty years before returning to Egypt to deliver God’s people from bondage—and he returned reluctantly.
The Beauty of Failure
As I grow older, I realize that I’m only as wise as the number of times I’ve failed. I’m only as humble as the menial jobs I’ve done well. I’m only as content as the amount of time I’ve contemplated eternity.
If I have bathed a matter in prayer and asked others to intercede with me, and the result is not as I had wished—injustice robs me or my strength and intellect fail—then I can only assume that my God has allowed such failure for my good. Will I gain wisdom, build humility, or realize the true meaning of contentment in this life? Or will I see Jesus face-to-face before I understand His reasons for life’s disappointments?
Only God knows. Do you know Him well enough to trust Him?
Will you continue to do the little things…for His glory alone.
“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” ~ Brother Lawrence