I am excited to welcome my wise and snarky friend Jessie Buttram to the blog today. Jessie not only has maybe the best twitter handle of all time –@jbuttwhatwhat – but she writes with humility and conviction about her search to love and follow Jesus. She is committed to her family, her friends, her church and to living a life of authentic and committed faith in the real world.
And if that isn’t enough, she was also smart enough to delete Facebook off her phone during Election Season.
I asked Jessie to write for the blog about whatever she wanted, because whenever she writes, grace and faith and challenge and hope come bursting through with trademark honesty, compassion and wit. And in the midst of a tumultuous season of life, what she has to say is an important and a good word – God is faithful and invites us to participate in that faithfulness by moving our feet and getting to work.
You can read more of what she’s up to at https://meetthebuttrams.com
So God and I have had a recent COME APART that has also turned into a COME TO JESUS. But before I let you start thinking more highly about my relationship with the Almighty, I’ve got to shoot straight. I don’t know or love God very well at all.
I’ve (haphazardly) followed His teachings for most of my life, I write (I think) eloquent prayers in fancy journals, I dig (in varying levels of depth) into His holy word. But there has always been a little bit of ill fit to my faith. Mostly because I need to know ALL THE THINGS and God just isn’t quite small enough to fit neatly in my brain. So when I say God and I had a COME APART, I really mean for once I shut up long enough to hear that still, small voice stir His Holy Spirit in me and breathe a living truth in my life from the ancient texts. (No big deal.)
These past couple of weeks, I have been reading through the book of Joshua with the online community She Reads Truth, and YOU GUYS. Joshua is a NOT FUN book. Outside of the pretty memory verse take-aways (24:15, anyone?), Joshua is actually a bloody, brutal book recounting battle after battle as Israel claimed their inheritance. And without the Holy Spirit nudging (or downright shoving) REAL LIFE TRUTH my way, I probably would have one, two, skipped a few and found my way back to 1 Corinthians or so. Right? Right.
But thankfully I kept on, mostly because I like to complete things, but also because SURELY there was something good to gather up from the Promised Land.
One place I landed and just couldn’t shake the dust from my heart was in Joshua 7. After yet another direct disobedience (which I know NOTHING about, ahemcoughwink), God withdraws His favor from Israel and they lose a key battle. Joshua laments to God, begging for God to keep His promise despite his people’s unfaithfulness, and he pleads with God (verse 9), “What then will you do for your own great name?”
What then will YOU do for YOUR OWN great name?
(Once more with feeling.)
Here’s the thing: I tend to think pretty highly of myself. I mostly keep the house from falling apart. I get my kids to their various activities every day. I can write. I’m pretty smart. I’m usually punctual. So I tend to fall into the trap of asking myself, “Self, what can I do for God today?” And also its counterpart, “Self, what if I DON’T do this for God today?”
Dear Heavenly Father, what can I, a suburban mom and wife who easily forgets a third of what’s on my mental grocery list, do for You, O Creator and King of this GIANT EXPANDING UNIVERSE?
(I am convinced God has a SUPERB sense of humor, if only because He has suffered through my teenage self’s prayer journals.)
MY FRIENDS. I will be the last person to admit there is a DEEP arrogance to these questions cloaked conveniently in humility and self-sacrifice. AS IF the changing of the world is even a little bit up to me.
For most of my life, I have studied this God, some days more closely than others. And I know and have seen too much not to believe He is constantly at work in this world. I know He is far more in love with this world than I could ever be. I know He is far, far more interested in the eternal souls walking this cursed ground. I know He is infinitely more brokenhearted over the things that move me to tears.
To think, with any degree of believability, my action (or inaction) has any true bearing on God’s ultimate Good Plan to redeem the whole world is small-minded at best. God will do what it takes to restore this whole world to wholeness and holiness. TRUST, with or without me, with or without the gifts I think I need to bestow upon the waiting world, God has and is and will redeem His beloved creation.
What a kindness God has shown us, not just that He would redeem you and me (as if that weren’t enough), but that He would invite you and me to work alongside Him to redeem the rest of this hurting, broken world.
What a kindness God shows us when He calls us into His ultimate Good Plan, not because He is insufficient but because He is far more sufficient than we could ever fathom.
His grace is far more sufficient than we can ever lap up.
His mercy is far more sufficient than we can ever exhaust.
His eager, reckless, irrational love for you and me and this whole wild world is far more sufficient than we can ever, ever earn.
God FOR SURE doesn’t need us to ask Him what we can do for Him. Instead, God wants us to follow Him in the great work He is already doing in this world. He wants us to join Him, to pull up a front row seat to the redemption He is unleashing on this world. God wants us to ask Him, “What will You do for Your own great name?” and watch as He blows our minds away.
God, in His infinite kindness, beckons us nearer, “Let’s do this together.”