On significance, a thought
On significance, a thought
Joel Howard; teacher, dad and husband
Think about these three people:
First, Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech in front of a quarter of a million people when he was only 34 years old - had a day named after him and lives forever in our minds as someone who helped to change history.
Second, Jesus of Nazareth paid for the sins of the world when he died and rose again at age 33 - actually was also God and is seated at the highest place in creation to rule and reign forever.
Third: Today, at age 35, I played crowd control by substituting for various teachers all morning since there were no available substitutes. I taught kids how to sound out the /ch/ sound and I read them a book. I won't be thanked or honored by any person for my actions in the past 3 hours.
What do all three of these examples have in common?
Our first thought about examples Jesus and MLK is the word "significance". Great outcomes, days named after them and a change in the course of history tend to point us to thinking about rewarding and honoring such people forever. MLK has a day named after him. Jesus is the King of everything forever with everyone under his feet. My story? I tend to look at MLK's age - 34 - and Jesus' age - 33 - and wonder how significance fits in to my morning.
What about crowd control for 22 kids?
Or what about a mom at home caring for three unruly kids and wiping the butts of a toddler or infant? What about a man fighting for his family by working an unwanted overnight job? What about the unemployed family asking their relatives for money to pay bills? What about the severely sick father who cannot kneel on the floor to play with his 7 year old and feels guilty?
One possible connection
We can do a number of things with this predicament - we can explain famous people's significance away as different from ours and say we are just not as significant. Second, we can strive to become like them - making their stories ours and becoming frustrated and devastated when it doesn't work out the way we thought it would.
Or the third option I want to introduce is that of reading significance into our own lives. Today I actually thought of MLK because I picked up a children's book on him in one of the classes where I was subbing. I enriched my soul by reading it to myself and then stood up and watched the class who was working on independent work. I imagined that they were the 250,000 marchers at Washington back when MLK gave his famous speech.
And you know what I did? I simply decided to myself that I, too, was changing the world by being in that classroom right then and there. I imagined my own faithfulness as just as worthy of honor and reward as MLK's on that day. I put myself in the same category as MLK in terms of faithfulness and showing up. I decided that by being the best Joel I can be in that moment, I was paving away for historic change on this planet and for humanity's future.
After all, what if the 22 kids I was ministering to in that classroom move onto be teachers, moms, and other leaders themselves? What if the boy who was crying and had ripped his headphones to shreds out of frustration needed me to squat down next to him and offer him a tissue? What if the moms who wipe butts and reprimand children are just as effective at influencing mankind as MLK was?
What if our day to day faithfulness is all that is asked of each of us? What if God never intended me to be you or you to be me or us to be Christ or MLK? What if he has set the stage for you and I each this day to be faithful and to show up - just like Martin showed up and addressed that crowd on that day - just like his faithfulness was needed there for a world in turmoil?
My challenge to myself and you is to picture your day - that filthy butt you are wiping, that monotonous job you are working, that argument with your 4 year old you are repeating... no matter where you are - lets picture this day as our own podium. Our own march on Washington - let us protest injustice and practice voicing faithfulness in our own day in and day out.
And when the last page of history is written and turned, and the judgements are listed in heaven - we will see if you and I are not next in line after MLK to be recognized for our faithfulness on earth in ministering to mankind. We will see if the same Christ who died for us to live another day will not welcome us in with our own unique honors and recognition - to be celebrated forever and a day in heaven.
Likewise, let us be careful not to complain too much about our current circumstances lest we miss the presence and opportunity of God right in front of us. Again, that task that is before you today - what if that is your next podium, your next speech to give. Let us give it well. And though all different, let us walk faithfully together - united in one family in Christ - together although separate, spread about the globe.