Jerry Falwell died before I was able to ask him my question.
It really is unfortunate since I have had multiple conversations in my head with him, discussing this issue near and dear to my heart. No, my question doesn’t involve his official position on the Teletubbies or even his Y2K fundraiser. It’s just that…well… every Wednesday for my entire college career Jerry spoke at our convocation, compelling us to Go A Little Farther AND DO SOMETHING BIG FOR GOD.
Of course, at the time, Jerry (the chancellor of my school– Liberty University) was expanding the campus across the interstate and was renovating his church to accommodate the growing crowd, so it was only normal that my perceptions of what he meant by “big” would be skewed by his epic projects.
Chapel would end and 6,000 students would file out of the Vines Center where our service was held. I would sit with my journal, writing out prayers to God, dreaming of how my life would be spent in ministry doing things as big as Jerry (no pun intended).
Fast forward to 2013. A friend and I were talking recently, recounting how much our job as a stay-at-home mom involved cleaning up fecal matter. Granted, she was potty training her puppy and two-year old at the time, so perhaps her perspective was a little skewed, but I thought of our conversation today as my baby had seven dirty diapers.
In a row.
Jerry Falwell died on May 15, 2007. I cried when I heard the news and I didn’t even know why. I never got to ask him what he meant. I never got to hear him clarify what “Do something BIG for the Kingdom of God” even meant. I never got to hear him qualify his opinion with a, “Well, of course it is a BIG thing to stay at home and raise children.” I never got to push back with a “How can you SAY that? Do you EVEN know what it FEELS like to wake up every day and be lucky enough to get a bra on by noon?” I never got to hear him clarify his position on motherhood and home-making…but I guess I don’t really need him to.
…It’s not his fault. He was just doing his job of inspiring young people to follow Jesus and dream big, but thirteen years after graduation, I often FEEL I’m just doing the things necessary for basic survival (buy food, prepare food, eat food, clean up food, rinse, repeat)… instead of changing the world. When I was young, I dreamt of building orphanages, spreading the gospel to lost people groups, and seeing entire villages converted. These days, getting a shower long enough to shave more than one leg is quite the accomplishment.
Then I try to listen to the other voice inside: If you think about it, can any of us really tell whether or not we are doing “big things” with our lives? When we think of doing something significant, we usually think of things that are validated or recognized by others. But truly big…like, ETERNAL big…things are not measured like that. Doesn’t the Bible say that the things that are SEEN are temporal, but the things that are UNSEEN are eternal? That means it’s possible for us to be doing things with our lives that ripple into eternity…but not ever know it here on earth.
So, I suppose that I need to go forward in this stage of my life not concerned so much about the depth, breadth, and weight of my accomplishments, but rather focused on being faithful with the tasks God has put in front of me. Even if that means tending to seven dirty diapers in a row, feeding children who are overly particular, or cleaning a floor that gets dirty nanoseconds later. I need to trust that faithfulness is BIG ENOUGH for God. After all, if my life is all for HIS GLORY, not my own, then I should simply submit and let Him use me to accomplish whatever HE wants to accomplish…big or small.
Even if (for this particular season) that is merely keeping everyone’s tooshes clean.
Published June 14, 2013