Sunday, August 17, 2014

My piece of the pie

Sometimes it's just so overwhelming.

As I read this week about the persecution going on in Iraq, it makes me want to do something. I want to make it stop. All by myself.

And then I look around at all the needs in the world, and how desperately the earth's 7 billion people need hope. Hope that is found in the gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

Seven. Billion. People.

In this age of 24 hour news, social media, and rapid communication, it's hard to miss how great the need is. Children all over the world in need of basic necessities like food and clothing. War breaking out in Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan with millions of civilians in the crossfire. Disease that's killing thousands and threatening to break out to kill millions. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis.

There are so many people hurting...and I sometimes feel so helpless.

So this morning when our teaching pastor compared me to a piece of pie, it was a perspective I needed.

A piece of pie? Yes. The encouragement I got from him was this: God has given me a role in redeeming his creation. But it's just a small part. When I feel like I've got to solve it all, I've got to remember that I'm just one piece of the pie, and I need to surround myself with people who have the other pieces. This is a group project.

Group project. I got a picture of this Thursday when I was helping judge an MBA contest at the University of Alabama. In the morning session, I saw 12 students making speeches, showing their talents for analyzing business problems. They were impressive. But the afternoon session was so much more impressive. The students were placed in groups of four and given a problem to solve, a company that needed to be revitalized. The group dynamic was so much more powerful, and the solutions they came up with were cool.

So why should I be discouraged? God isn't asking me to solve the world's problems all by myself. He has been working to redeem the world with a plan that has been growing for over 4,000 years, starting with Abraham, culminating in the work of Jesus during his time on earth, and continuing in the hands of his people, the church. I am a small part of that plan, a small piece of the pie.

Small, yes. But definitely a piece.

So what should I do? I believe God asks me to be content in the role he has given me, and go about it with determination and much prayer. I don't need to be wishing I could be somewhere else doing something else. If I do, I will pine away my life and miss the chance to do his kingdom work right where he has me. There is so much to be done!

So, instead of focusing on what I can't do, I will focus on what I can:

  • Go to work each and look for ways to show God's love to those at my company. I can do quality work that glorifies the Creator of work, demonstrate servant leadership to my team, and love those around me even when we don't agree on things.
  • Love my family with all my heart, letting them see the light of Jesus by considering their needs above my own.
  • Love my friends - fellow believers - by spending time with them and building community that reflects the prayer of Jesus in John 17.
  • Love strangers, and even those who oppose me. Show them extraordinary kindness. Who does this?? Well, nobody wants to. And so when I do, people can see that the gospel does make a difference in how we live.
  • Find a pocket of need and pour my life into others. This is where I have to avoid getting overwhelmed - I can't reach out to and/or visit every widow and orphan in the world or help lift up all the oppressed. But that's no excuse not to reach out to any. For me, at this point in my life, it's the children of Korah in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as keeping my eye out for local opportunities.
  • Pray, pray, pray. This is how we can be involved where we can't reach. We have a big God.
  • Share the resources that God has entrusted to me. He has done so not for my pleasure, but for his glory.
Tackling this list is  quite a challenge. But with God's help, it's something I can do. 

So thanks, Patrick, for reminding me. Instead of being frustrated about the things I want to do for God but can't, I need to do well those things God has placed right in front of me. 

Time to get to it.

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