Laudable Linkage

Here’s my latest list of good online reads:

My Grandmother Would Tell You That, HT to Challies. “I could write out my grandmother’s full name and you wouldn’t recognize it. She wasn’t famous, wealthy, accomplished, or well-known. But her unremarkable life was truly remarkable because of who Jesus was to her.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, April Witkowski & the Myth of the Wasted Ministry, HT to Challies. “Our lives today will not be defined by our dreams, hopes, or expectations of what is to come (of what may never come) but will be defined by our faithful execution of the life and ministry God has given us in this moment. If we are faithfully serving God today in accordance with his Word and our calling and gifting, our lives are not a waste but rather the very definition of success.”

What Pins Are You Juggling? A Parenting Story, HT to Challies. One of the hard things about children growing up: “‘I have all these pins that I’m juggling and I have to keep them all up in the air and I can’t let any of them drop.’ I ended with a little sob of self-pity and mom-guilt that I am oh so good at. She came over to my chair and looked me in the eye. ‘But they’re not your pins.’”

Evidence of God’s Faithfulness in Ukraine, HT to Challies. After praying for this country for months now, it’s good to get a peek at some ways God is working there.

From the Heavens to the Depths: Sparking Wonder for Him Through Science. “When we shy away from science, we miss a breathtaking opportunity to open our kids’ eyes to the true majesty, the wonder, the artistry, and the magnificence of our Creator. The very foundations of science require acceptance of our universe as ordered, discoverable, and characterizable — a philosophy that lends itself to a higher, intelligent power who put it all into order in the first place. When we guide our kids through the mysteries and splendors of creation, we give them a glimpse of the brilliance, mastery, and goodness of the Creator, a glimpse that complements rather than contradicts the attributes He reveals through Scripture.”

5 Steps to Break Free from To-Do List Overwhelm. “As Christians we want to be faithful in the tasks the Lord has given us. But often we mistake busyness for productivity. We think if our to-do lists are full, and we are frantically working on them each day, surely we must be on the right track.”

How to Create an Effective Weekly Schedule, HT to Redeeming Productivity. “Every Monday for the past 5 years, I’ve taken the first 15 minutes to plan the week ahead. For me, this has been my single greatest productivity routine.” Great tips here for how to implement.

The Art of Moving On: When and How to Disengage from a Goal, HT to Redeeming Productivity. “When discussing goals, we typically talk about employing perseverance and persistence, even in the face of adversity and setbacks. ‘Quitters never win, and winners never quit,’ and all that. While grit is essential to goal achievement, Wrosch argues that an equally important part of successful living is knowing when to give up and disengage from a goal. “

Faithful in Obscurity

Suppose you’re playing Jeopardy!, and you see this clue in the People in the Bible category:

Bartholomew, James the son of Alphaeus,
Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot

Would you know the right question?

“Who are some of Jesus’ disciples?”

If I were the host, I’d count that correct. But, more precisely, you could ask, “Who are the lesser-known disciples of Jesus?”

The names are a little different in the various lists of disciples (people often went by more than one name then.) But these usually appear near the bottom of the lists, right before Judas Iscariot. We don’t know much about them besides their names. We don’t have their words or actions recorded in the Bible other than in what the disciples did as a group.

Several years ago, our pastor at that time shared a series of messages about the disciples. Peter, as you can imagine, was the subject of more than one sermon. I think Judas may have gotten two; John, Phillip, and some of the others may have had one message devoted to each of them.

Our pastor grouped these last virtual unkowns all together. What can we possibly learn from them?

My pastor suggested the main thing they teach us is faithfulness in obscurity.

The lack of detail about them doesn’t mean they were inactive or lesser disciples. For His own reasons, God chose to emphasize certain aspects of other disciples in the Bible.

They heard the same messages as the others and ministered alongside them. There were people they preached to and helped and healed. I’m sure they made a difference in the lives they encountered. God probably used them in ways He could not have used Peter and John.

When they give an account before God, they’re not going to get a participation ribbon or an “I was one of twelve” tee shirt. If they served God faithfully, they’ll hear His “Well done.”

So will you. You may be a busy mom of little ones, a secretary stationed at her desk, a cashier at a counter, a caregiver tucked away in a lonely room, or in any number of occupations where you feel unnoticed. Don’t be concerned if you don’t get as much attention or response as other people. Don’t fret over whether your work seems “important.” Faithfully do what God has called you to do, for His honor and glory.

Sometimes obscurity is just for a time. Jesus was on earth a little over 33 years, with only the last three spent in active ministry. What was He doing those first thirty years? The Bible doesn’t tell us much except that after Mary and Joseph thought they’d lost Him and then found Him in a discussion in the temple, “he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:51-52). We can assume He learned carpentry alongside his stepfather and did all the things a normal Jewish family would do in those times. He probably engaged in acts of kindness and quiet ministry to others.

If we were arranging things, we might have Him manifest Himself as the Son of God much sooner. But that was not God’s way. Yet that quiet time in the background, walking righteously in everyday life, was just as much a part of His life as the rest. Just before His death, Jesus prayed, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

That can be our purpose as well, whatever work we’re called to.

God may call people to the spotlight for a short time or for much of their lives. But many of us will live as 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says: “to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” We can serve Him in ordinary, everyday ways, hardly noticed by the rest of the world. Yet doing that ordinary service in love as unto Him, filled with His Spirit, makes all the difference.

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