More of life is lived in the ordinary than in the mountaintop highlights.
Ask the woman in the fifteenth year in the desert on her way with the rest of God's chosen people to the Promised Land. See her tent?
The magnitude tents around her swallow it up.
You don’t know her story. She is not the magnificent beautiful Queen Esther we all dreamed of being in Sunday school. She is not the man of God, Moses, which led the often-stubborn people through displays of miracles. She lives in an Unnamed Tent. Living an ordinary life. Seeking God in daily obedience of walking in blistering heat and with sand in every nook and cranny of her life and soul. She is not quoted nor praised. Until today you’ve probably never thought about her facing dark nights without clean drinking water or electricity or Pampers and Tylenol. You’ve never wondered how you keep little toddlers happy in the dry scorching heat. Yet every morning she got up and gathered the manna for her family. She placed one foot in front of the other day-after-day, year-after-year. Sun. Sand. Sand. Sun. One day she got so tired of the Promised Land being so far away that she gave her earrings to be melted to shape a shiny lifeless god that everybody said would bring her joy. Unnamed Tent living. Ordinary. Seeking the true God on a long journey. Failing often. Trying again. Another day. Unknown. Unnamed Tent.
I fear that we have become so obsessed with public performances that we often think the mundane to be unimportant.
Lene’ my four-year old came to me yesterday asking, “Mamma, can you help me do something big for God?” She was watching Veggietales’ version of David and Goliath and the message was that even if you are little you can still do big things for God.
I’m all for it; LittleHandsHelping is my passion in life. We focus on giving kids the gift of giving, at the heart of which is that even when you are little you can make a difference in the world. But where have we gotten the idea that only BIG things matter? And what is a big thing anyway? Is doing a big thing for God to be a NY Times bestselling author? Or is it a big thing to have a ministry that is known worldwide? Is doing a big thing for God when I’m a superstar singer? A well-known politician or athlete? Because if it is, then most of us living in an Unnamed Tent have nothing to offer or contribute.
A big thing for God might just be hidden in a thousand little things. Seems like the little coins from the widow overshadowed the big checks of the wealthy guys. The one bottle of perfume out did the lavish banquet held in Jesus’ honor. The drink from the well poured by the sinful woman more of a gift than the Pharisees keeping the letter of the Law. The two fish and five loaves of bread enough to feed a crowd.
Why then am I so reluctant of the little, mundane obediences? Behind the scenes serving?
Could the answer be hidden in my desire to grasp some of His glory for myself?
It feels good to be acknowledged.
Approval addict. Gold star craver.
Yep, that’s me.
I was always so afraid of breaking the rules as a kid. I never wanted to disappoint anybody. I was outwardly obedient because getting the golden star was so luring. Gold star child. God had to lead me out of a world where getting an A+ and getting approval because of my position and credentials was gone and my only identity had become the dependent of an alien in a foreign country. Waiting for a Green Card I could not flash my fancy degrees and accomplishments for the few moments of basking in glory that should have been His anyway. I had to find my identity elsewhere, so I threw myself into motherhood. Surely raising wonderful kids would be filling my need to be good enough. Ha! Yes, of course children are little robots you can control and always are tiny saints that make people line up to learn from your expertise and earn you the nod of approval.
Motherhood humbled me.
It brings out the most ugly in me. It confronts me with my selfish heart, my shortcomings, my impatience, and my hypocrisy. Every. Single. Day. It is here in the not–so-Pinterest moments in our home that Jesus has become real to me in a million different ways. It is here where I cannot hide behind a façade or pretend to be something I am not. Here in my Unnamed Tent I’m confronted by the brokenness of my sinful nature, my need for a God that is bigger than my need to feel validated. It is here where I long more and more to be authentic, to live what I say I believe, and where I’ve come to realize that being faithful is easy when I’m in a Bible study and all that is required is to voice my opinion that often comes from years of reciting Christianize. It is easy to be loving and patient with my kids when the world is watching. It is easy to cry about the poor kids in Africa and work to set them free, but the reality of my brokenness becomes evident when I lose my temper without a sign of compassion for the kids God has living in my home.
Little things. Daily sacrifices. Unsung songs and untold stories.
I see them all around me. Women living in Unnamed Tents.
She works overtime to earn enough money to take care of her grandkids, no glimpse of the early retirement she dreamed about.
I see her sacrifice her vacation to fly her elderly parents down for which might be their last time with family in Florida.
She stays awake another night in the hospice to comfort her father in his final days on earth.
She drives back and forth to the inner city to teach a Bible study to the homeless and unemployed.
She unlocks the church building before most people who will come to church even wakes up.
She takes in foster kids and loves them like her own and cries herself to sleep when it is time to let them go.
She kisses tears away and holds a sick baby when the house is quiet and her own body aches for rest.
She is brave for her little girls’ sake though her whole body shakes with fear as they face another surgery.
She invites a lonely mother to be to window shop at a baby store and dream with her about the new life God has given her.
She knits little blankets for the pretend baby of the old woman with Dementia, while Cancer ravages her own body.
She initiates a fundraiser to support a friend in need.
She listens without judging.
She takes care of her child with special needs.
She doesn’t cut corners in her work.
Don’t let the world fool you.
In God’s economy there are no Unnamed Tents.
He knows you by name.
He is there in the dark night when all you desire is to sleep but there is no reprieve because time is money and you have mouths to feed.
He is there when you stop in by the neighbor who is going through divorce and you comfort her.
He is there when you feel like the mundane is so ordinary and that all anybody ever sees are the things you did not get done.
He sees your faithfulness of getting up and placing one foot in front of the other.
He sees your little acts of obedience.
He knows your struggles and your doubts and your imperfections.
He is not surprised by your questions.
He has seen you sell out to the false gods of security and materialism, approval and popularity, and He wants your heart back.
He is the God who sees the hidden deeds of those who follow Him. Several times in Scripture He commands to pray with the door closed instead of shouting at the street corners, He says to give without the one hand knowing what the other is doing, to fast without proclaiming it.
So woman in the Unnamed Tent live your ordinary obedience before your Father who sees. For He carries the engraving of your name in the palm of His hand.
And when you meet Him face-to-face you’ll have more than a silly golden star.