Valid by Association: It's Not Where You Are But Whose You Are
I’m from a small town. With small towns there comes this universal desire to skip town for bigger and better places as soon as possible. So fast the tassel on the graduation cap is still swinging as you board the flight. There’s this belief that major cities like Atlanta, New York, or L.A. are where real life begins. That there’s something about location. As if we’re validated by zip codes. That following the map further north or west makes us new. And I know it’s not specific to small towns but humans in general. There's this tendency to look to the external to jumpstart internal change. We seek hope in new environments and validation by association. But God doesn’t think like we do. He isn’t bound by our limited creativity and methods of operation. The God who created time and yet functions outside of it, doesn’t need a new year or new address to make a new move.
SMALL THINGS, GREAT PURPOSE
Sure, he’s known for launching movements that require passports and career changes. But he’s also known for doing small things with great purpose. The God that told Abraham to pack up his squad also expressed the truths of his grand, universal kingdom via simple, small mustard seeds and grapes. He’ll take us from small to large or large to small, and sometimes back and forth. It’s not about the appearance of increase, but true growth--by any means necessary.
The Spirit of God will grow you more in the spare bedroom of your grandparent’s house in 8 months than you could hoofing it in a bigger, brighter city for 2 years. New environments and circumstances naturally cause growth but how you grow is what matters. Are you growing well? Is it targeted? Are your infantile areas maturing? God doesn’t want us shooting off like wild weeds but, directionally, toward the light. It’s why he prunes us.(John 15:2)
Many times we want major change in major ways but God, it seems, is often keen on the minor. Zechariah 4:10 says,
Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the LORD rejoice to see the work begin...
It’s not so much about you loving disenfranchised youth in India, but loving your youngest sister. Instead it might be about serving in an organization you’re apathetic toward, knowing God has assigned you to it for this season. It’s picking litter from the ground, obediently wiping down the machine at the gym, and being faithful in the everyday. Our extraordinary God–who’s described as fire and thunder– is also a gentle whisper and uses the ordinary to birth the extraordinary.
FOOLISHLY SHAMING THE WISE
We get excited about a God who can do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can ask or think, and then get anxious when he starts coloring outside the lines. Look to Scripture for reminders that God is in the habit of using foolish things to shame the wise. He does what he wants, when and how he wants, regardless of how silly or risky it appears to us humans. God had Isaiah strip down to drive a prophecy home. He decreased Gideon’s army before sending them into battle. He had Naaman “cleanse” himself in the murky waters of the river Jordan.
As with Gideon, God wants us to be able to point to him–nobody but him–for victory. To, when it all links together, expose the intricate work of the divine designer. That 5 years customer service experience that this dream job requires was earned as a receptionist in a company you loathed. You’re not sure how your experience as a colorist and paralegal correlate. Then in your new city there’s a company looking for that exact combo. Huh. What was irrelevant in one season easily becomes relevant in the next.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
We hear, “Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created" (Esther 4:14)and it feels like it only applies to the grand–like Esther risking life and limb on behalf of her people. But I’m learning that it applies to both the mundane and exhilarating moments. There is purpose in solemn Tuesday afternoons and vibrant Saturday nights.
Our “moments” may even occur in discomfort zones. God foreknew the political, religious, and economic climates of your years on earth. He took that into full consideration when He prepared His plans for you. Whatever the tension and trouble you face, you’re graced for it. Whatever the circumstances you were raised in, you’re already an overcomer through Christ.
TRANSFORMATION BY AVIATION
God never gets lost, shows up at the wrong place, or behind schedule. Our eternal omniscient, omnipotent God isn’t making stabs in the dark. The master strategist knows how to work the board. When to trot out the rooks, knights, and bishops. Neither your life nor the moves you make are validated by the enormity or complexity of them. Jesus has already justified you and God will not neglect to qualify you, for any and everything asked of you.
Success is not checking off the 30 by 30 Lists. It is obedience. A life surrendered to the one you call Lord. It’s knowing the only person you need to be associated with is Christ himself . David Platt said,
Transformation doesn’t happen by aviation.