Recently we’ve begun this new thing with AG, where she’ll ask me about something, for something, or to do something – and ask me 100 times. The answer is the same, but she keeps. on. asking.
She’s a stubborn soul with an inspiring amount of fight within her. I love it, yet sometimes struggle knowing that my child has a naturally stronger will than I do.
When she won’t stop asking me the same thing over and over again – after I’ve clearly given her a fair and rational answer, it’s frustrating that she won’t just think about the answer I’ve already given her. I’ve told her what we’re going to do, when we’re going to watch Sesame Street, how much longer it’ll be in the car, and that we can’t go to the pool because it’s raining.
You probably already see where I’m going – because you’re likely wiser and deeper than me and may not even struggle with this. But I’ll ask the question anyways: Don’t we do this with God?
Don’t we beg and plead and cry and ask and ask and ask?? And maybe, like Ansley, we’ve gotten some kind of word or direction. Maybe it’s a poignant verse, Godly advice, a timely sermon or podcast lecture. For a short time, it offers us the clarity we’ve been searching for. But after a week or so, we go back to the pleading and asking and tears of uncertainty and doubt.
When will it work out?
When will I know the outcome of this hard thing?
What are you doing Lord?
All are valid questions, for sure. But since this post is about the thing the Lord is using my daughter to teach me, that’s where we’re headed.
To be fair and honest, I need to admit to you that the ‘endless question barrage’ has kind-of been my M.O. lately, too. There have been a couple things in my life that I want to know about. I want direction and clarity. But really – I just want immediate solutions. When it comes to the question of “How do you want me to serve you, Lord?” I think I’ve got an answer I need to focus on, and share with you.
About a month ago, I attended a Christian writer/speaker conference where women, over 700 of them, traveled across the United States to hear from other Christian writer/speaker types, many (like me) with publishing dreams. It was a thrill. Everything about it was invigorating, exciting and beautiful, yet also nerve-wracking as I was pitching Unopened to publishers.
And while the main guest speakers were insightful, talented, meaningful, and completely lovely – they all spoke similar messages: “numbers don’t matter, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get published, it’s about serving God.” Picture my internal dialogue: “Right, that’s great, and I really do agree with you, but you actually do have quite a large following, and you actually have been published, and you are actually the one on the big stage right now.”
I know, that’s terrible of me to think and say. But here we were, 700 of us, each hoping to someday do the exact same thing as the person on stage while the truth of the matter is that maybe 50 will, 650 will not.
And what all 700 of us are fighting with and bumping up against is the numbers game.
How many followers do you have on social media?
That’s one of the biggest questions in publishing right now. What’s your platform? and How big of a following do you have? Because realistically, publishing houses are businesses. They need to sell books and hit goals and pay salaries. I get that. I think we can even make the remark that due to the way the world is changing, social media may be to blame here.
However, we (I) have also systematically equivocated followers to importance. Deep down, in the secret crevices of our hearts, we begin to believe: If you don’t have 5,000 people reading or watching, then what do you doesn’t matter. If you aren’t encouraging 10,000 souls, then none are being reached.
So why even try? Why even lead a group of 2 or 20, if it isn’t 2,000? Why write encouraging, quality content if it isn’t a part of a blog loop?
The promised Messiah, called Jesus Christ, came down to earth and lead a group of 12. Yes, he performed jaw-dropping miracles and taught to thousands, but 90 percent of his ministry was with the 12.
Lately I’ve really been struggling with the direction of this little website and my friends on the other side of the screen. Last year I wrote so much. Every word, post, and guided quiet time has been meaningful and painstakingly real. Yet unfortunately, it’s not realistic for me to keep up that pace. I have tested the barometric pressure of my people and nearly made our little family burst with the pressure cooker of 2 Bible studies in a year.
We (I) so easily lose sight of the fact that we each have ministries, right in front of us. Our platform is our people: our spouse, child(ren), extended family, co-workers, church family – that’s our built-in platform. In the hustle of trying to create it, we grievously battle the temptation to neglect those right in front of us as we look to attain accounts. These new followers are likely well-meaning people looking for encouragement, but where is the real connection? Where is the 1-1 conversation or coffee date relationship? We may want it – and even try to create it, but we cannot give 100 or 10,000 followers all of ourselves without taking away from those in our own homes.
I don’t know about y’all – but I’ve struggled with the lie that if what I’m doing in the name of Christ isn’t widely known, then it’s not valuable.
Doesn’t that sound crazy when you read it? But I believe I’m not the only one wrestling with this.
I write this with gut-level honesty because I have lived it. In my quest to be present online, I have pushed my people aside, making them a lesser priority than my page. And I’ve become sick over it.
As our society continues to live out life online, it will be the job of the Christian to counter-culturally react. Whether you are a writer/speaker type or not, who is your platform? Who are your people?
Because I have this notion that souls count a whole lot more than followers.
There’s a children’s song AG has learned the words to and it’s pretty hilarious listening to her sing her ‘version’ of the lyrics, but they go something like this:
I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the calvary,
Shoot the Artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army, yes, sir!
Proverbs 4:7 says “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you do, get insight.”
Ansley singing this song all afternoon yesterday set something off in me. In her little 2 year old cartoon voice, the Lord imparted to me the wisdom and insight I’ve needed.
We are all in the Army.
I may never speak before thousands,
Go on a nationwide book tour,
Sing lead Worship at my church,
But I’m in the Lord’s army.
I may never homeschool or homestead,
Have a successful summer garden,
Or learn how to sew,
But I’m in the Lord’s army.
I may never jetset across the globe for my career,
Have a corner office,
Or dine with world leaders,
But I’m in the Lord’s army.
Let’s not sell ourselves short. Our platform is specifically where God has placed us, so that, as soldiers in His army, we can fight Satan back with grace and truth and love. We affect our spheres of influence in a way only we can.
We all are right in the midst of our own Esther “For such a time as this” moments. Our specific testimonies, skill sets, gifting and capabilities are the equipping that our Heavenly Father has given us to reach those nearby.
Some may have eloquent tweets about our nation’s turmoil, and the falling apart of our society – but it will be our service to the world that changes it. An Instagram post is a whole lot less likely to bring someone into faith of Jesus Christ than a relationship with a Christian soldier.
Our ‘living the thing out’ will be the lasting impression of Christianity on the people within our circles. Whether our circles are 100,000 people wide, or 3 little people wide. They matter. They count. They are eternal.
I’m going to keep writing here because I love it. And I love y’all. I’ve actually got some ideas rolling around about how to continue offering ideas and ways of studying the Bible. But I also hope to do things a little differently from now on.
I’ve got people in my real-life that I need to focus on and pour into. I can’t do that online.
A huge part of this shift and wrestle is that my work schedule has changed again, and I feel called to serve our students with gusto and intentionality.
I can’t do it all, and I don’t want to try.
God is in everything. He’s in the numbers. He’s in the workplace. He’s in the home. He’s in the coffee shop.
I want to be where He is. Present, obedient, focused. I have to quiet my spirit, and be there. Of course I’d love to get published someday. Teaching to thousands is still a dream I won’t deny. But I have a mission field right in front of me, and I want to serve it well. So for now, I slow my pace, and stop asking my Heavenly Father the same question over and over again. I offer up my Bible Studies to the Lord, knowing that He will do with them what is best.
I’m praying for equipping. That we would be found worthy of the call upon our lives. I’m asking the Lord to embolden our hearts, and set His soldiers aflame, sharing good news of Jesus Christ to all that we call our ‘platform.’