I love a good magazine. There is nothing more satisfying to me than wiggling my toes in the sand, taking in a beautiful sunny day, and flipping through the latest home trends.
However, just a few years ago I realized there was a mental magazine I had subscribed to that had become quite poisoning to my way of thinking.
It all started in my mid-twenties. I was recently out of college and married and was trying to “shop” for what Christian lifestyle seemed to best “fit” me. I began mentally flipping through a “catalog” in my head of people I either knew personally or through their books, blogs, or documentaries. I believed the lie that my own personality, gifts, and talents were pretty boring so I thought it would be best to try and browse for someone else’s life.
On one page of my mental catalog I found a family I know who intentionally moved into the projects in Tennessee to minister to others. Another page showed a family who has fostered and adopted 15 kids. Further into the catalog I found a couple who moved to a jungle across the world with their young children to teach the villagers about Jesus.
Another page showed a husband and wife who sold their nice house to move closer to international students and invite them in their home so they could share the gospel.
Page after page after page in my head highlighted the way others have moved, fostered, adopted, minimized, given, and started ministries. For a full decade I had been mentally “trying on” these different ways of following Jesus to see which one worked best for our family.
When I hit my mid-thirties something seemed to click. God showed me that although it is fine to look at others for inspiration to gain ideas, there is no cookie cutter lifestyle that fits all Christians. Although my gifts and talents may not seem glamorous, He has uniquely created me. We each have our own educational background, financial situation, family history, spiritual gifts, and personality that allow us to play a small part in His very big glorious story.
Right now what that looks like for me is simply discipling the three children He has given my husband and me. It is not a very public assignment. It looks more like snuggling in the bed together and reading a book about a Christian hero, or taking the time to talk and listen and teach when someone has been hurt by a friend, or sharing our highs and lows of the day around a table of homemade goodies. Nothing about my life is flashy and “front cover” material, but that doesn’t mean it is not essential.
I am doing exactly what God has asked me to do and that makes it the most important assignment of all.
Satan is described in the Bible as the father of lies. He loves for us to look at ourselves, declare our unique gifting worthless, and then to try to squeeze ourselves into another person’s assignment.
In the adoption community, we especially need to be careful to find our lane and run our race. Whether God has called us to adopt and love one child with minor special needs or adopt eight children with major medical needs, we simply need to focus on what He has asked us to do and not compare.
We have to stop feeling that because our life doesn’t fit one of the items in the “catalog” it is unimportant. God has invited us into the amazing privilege of joining Him and His kingdom work. I love how Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Maybe the lyrics of this old hymn summarize it best:
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus today and stop shopping for the lives of others.
Whether your assignment seems big and glamorous or small and private, it’s what you do with it that matters. Let’s trash the catalog of comparison and embrace the role God has called us into for His amazing, unbelievable, definitely front cover worthy, never-ending story.