Doing Things, Great and Small

Mother Teresa once said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” This morning someone asked me what I wanted my impact in this life to be, and this is what came out of my fingertips:

Honestly, I am not sure what my impact is going to look like. From what I’ve seen of my walk with God so far, it has been the small things done with great kindness that has had the greatest impact. The people I have seen come to know the Lord have been individuals who I have personally “walked the road” with for a long time. I want to write and speak and touch thousands of lives, but I am starting to think the best way for that to happen is by just touching one. And it seems to me that if Jesus spent 3 years mainly teaching and working with 12 guys, He was setting an example for us to see. When we’re faithful with a little, God can give us more to be faithful with.

After I thought about it, I realised how incredibly true it is, that the Lord has shown me this principle in my walk with Him. The places where I felt closest to the heart of God were the places when I left behind the 99 to go after the one. When I stopped and sat down with a guy on a cold street in Edinburgh, bought him a hot chocolate and eventually a Bible. When I stopped an international student on my university campus to ask if she needed any help, and how she was settling in a new country. (Seven years later, she is still walking with Jesus.) When I sat with a man in a town square in Mexico, though he spoke Mayan and not much Spanish and we bumbled along with little conversation. When I held on to hope for another international student for two and a half years, and wept with tears of joy the day she was baptized. It is often in taking note of the one, doing the small things with great love, that we are taking note of the heart of God.

Jesus stopped for the one:

  • the one Samaritan woman with a poor reputation at the well
  • the one woman with the flow of blood who would’ve been considered ‘untouchable’ in His day
  • the one over-tax-collecting “piece of work” Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to see Him
  • the one Blind Bartimaeus at the roadside
  • children, children and more children, one at a time
  • the one little boy with epilepsy who was constantly falling into the fire
  • the one gentile woman who asked for healing for her daughter

This list could go on and on. And on. But the point is, Jesus showed us that no matter where He was headed, what mission He was on His way to accomplish, He always had time for the one.

Do you have dreams of greatness? Do you have dreams of speaking to millions? Touching millions? Reaching millions? The best way to start is by touching one. And there is one in your life every day. Ask God to renew your mind to see the one, and to see what you can do. If together, as believers, we are all doing small things with great love, we will be doing a very big thing, indeed, and the world will know that our love is the love of God.

Call Waiting

Until You feel the timing’s right
for You to speak or move,
Lord, I’ll wait and I’ll hold on,
cos I’m holding on for You.

Though waiting seems much harder
and I don’t see the way through,
I mean it when I say I love You,
and I’m holding on to You.

I Love You, Too

In some ways I’ve been experiencing a sort of spiritual renaissance lately. I think there is something really significant about going through trials, learning to trust God and count it all joy. Plus, I’ve just been challenged, as I may have shared with you, that if I want to be real about anything, I want to be real about seeking and loving God.

One little tidbit of delight that has been bringing me joy lately has sprung out of my continued realisation that the Lord really loves me. As I shared with you at New Year’s, I’ve been allowing myself to soak that in, and really believe it all over again. And as a result I am reminded of so many beautiful truths. The Lord loved me long before I loved Him. The Lord loved me before I even knew what love was. He knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He gave me a great mother, so He really must’ve loved me even then! 😉

In response to this love, instead of saying “I love you, Lord” in prayers and quiet moments here and there, I’ve often been saying “I love You, too.” This simple sentence is such a beautiful reminder to my soul that I love the Lord because He first loved me. And that I’m only able to love Him because He already loves me, and has put His love in me.

I can't wait to hear an "I love you, too" from this little guy. I wonder if that's how the Lord feels about us.

I can't wait to hear an "I love you, too" from this little guy. I wonder if that's how the Lord feels about us.

It just feels different to say “I love you, too” no matter whom you’re saying it to. The first statement, “I love you” feels like you’re taking the action and onus on yourself — to profess love, to point out something you are doing or feeling or being, and you might often say it without really knowing whether the other person will also say it in response. It can be a bit risky, hey? But “I love you, too” says “I know you love me. I am glad you love me. I am happy to be in your love, and I am responding to your love with love.”

At the moment it occasionally feels like a tiny revolution in my heart, to constantly remind myself that I am loved by God, as I tell Him I love Him (too). And although it may not feel that way forever, as we are created beings which tend to tire of doing something a certain way (shouldn’t we be thankful for seasons and time and all the changes the Lord has given us, since we are the way we are!?) I thought I would nevertheless share this potential tiny revolution with you, in case it would stir your heart to be reminded of the goodness of God toward you. He already loves you. Very much. I hope it causes you to worship, to be so very glad, and to love Him, too.

Happy New Year, Love God

I was thinking of sharing an encouragement with you about the New Year, and perhaps challenging you to consider really really diving into God’s Word in a new way. Spending time in it every day, and allowing it to transform your life. But then for a couple of days I was struggling, not really able to put my finger on the source of it, but just ill-at-ease about life in general, and fearful awake and asleep. It took me a while to figure out what was really going on in my heart. I could see places where I was afraid when I didn’t need to be. I could see fear instead of faith leading my course of action. And I could see that I was ultimately struggling to trust God, and therefore trying to figure out how to move forward in my own strength.

But finally, this morning as I was reading, the true issue, the root, and the heart of the matter came to the surface. I was struggling to believe that God really loves me. Yes, we all know the words to “Jesus Loves Me” and we all remember that the Bible tells us so. But sometimes, when things are tough, when life gives you lemons, when things aren’t going your way, when your bank account isn’t pretty, there’s a snake in the grass ready to whisper in your ear…Does God really love you? And if you are caught unaware, little seeds of doubt can begin to produce big fruit — fear, mistrust, an unsettled mind, perhaps even a desire to throw out the baby and the bathwater.

But what good and glorious news I have to share with you this morning! What good and glorious news brought me to my knees, weeping in the shower? God loves me. That’s it, and that’s the truth. He really loves me. He really cares about what happens in my life. He really wants a relationship with me and He really wants what’s best for me.

It's Greater Love than This

It’s Greater Love than This

Do you have kids? I hope someday you do. Every day I have with the Bear inspires poetry in my heart — songs and music of thankfulness. I really, really love him. I really care about what happens in his life. And I really want to lead him and help him to learn how to live a life that will please God — where I know he’ll experience something greater than any other way of life available. But the point I’m trying to make is, I really, really love him. And the way I love that little boy, if you could put it on a calculator and add it up to some numerical value, absolutely cannot compare with the love the Lord has for me, with a thousand calculators. Just me. Little Caroline Collie from Washington, North Carolina — who has this many hairs on her head and has had this many dreams about chocolate on Tuesdays and has seen this many sunsets.

He knows everything about me. And He still loves me. And I am so glad to hold that truth in my heart in a fresh way today. It is absolutely glorious.

So if I could still issue a New Year’s challenge to you, I might encourage you to get into the Bible like never before. To spend time with your Creator and seek His face. But perhaps today, more than any of that, I just want you to know how much He loves you. No matter what you do. It’s unconditional love. He doesn’t need you. But He really, really wants you. You bring Him joy just being who He created you to be. You bring Him joy just being. His desire is for you. And He’s been chasing after you.

In the year ahead, I hope you let Him catch you. Let Him choose you. And let Him shower you with His amazing love. If you do, you’ll want to dive into His Word to know Him better and let Him change you. You’ll want to get up early and get away to be with Him. You will become a part of the greatest love story in history — the story of a loving God, and the generations and generations of people He has demonstrated His love to. In the midst of the billions, the God of the universe wants to know you. Happy New Year.

The First Word

The Bear is in a wonderful stage of firsts right now. It is funny how I feel the need to document all these firsts. We brushed his three teeth for the first time yesterday (in the bathtub), and I was practically jumping over Mark to try to get a good angle with the camera for a photo.

He will probably be taking his first steps sometime soon. I suppose he was aspiring to be a clothing designer at about six months, because he once said the word, “gingham.”  It seems he has set that dream aside…honestly we’re quite sure it was unintentional but we laughed at claiming that was his first word. The “Dadas” and “Mamas” are in full force right now, but a proper first word is probably coming soon. It is exciting to think about the billions and billions of words someone is going to say in their entire life and actually getting to witness the first one.

First Toofer BrushI was reading in a couple of different places this morning when I was convicted about my own words. I memorized Ephesians 4:29 quite a while ago (and it was part of my reading again today): “Let no corrupt word proceed outof your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” I try to let that Scripture ‘filter’ what’s going to come out of my mouth. If you stop before the first word, you don’t have to finish what you’ve started!

This morning, though, I wanted to tell Mark the story of a conversation I overheard at the gym, and although it was completely useless nonsense, and really not a very nice story to retell, I went against that ya-know-in-yer-knower-you-should-hush feeling and proceeded to tell the story anyway.

And then as I was reading in Proverbs later, I came across Prov. 11:13 —

A talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

Ouch! That’s clear enough, methinks. I asked the Lord to forgive me for going my own way and letting my mouth run with ungraceful talk, and I am thankful for the clean slate and the fresh opportunity to move forward with grace-filled speech instead.

Every word we speak is an opportunity to build up or to tear down — even if it’s just the tone and attitude we are using to deliver the message. Please, Lord, give me a greater measure of Your Holy Spirit — to direct my steps and my words. And help me to obey!