Following God in Obscurity
John Koessler | posted 11/01/2010
"Mary, I know what I'm going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I'm going to leave this little town far behind, and I'm going to see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then I'm coming back here, and I'll go to college and see what they know, and then I'm going to build things. I'm going to build air fields. I'm going to build skyscrapers a hundred stories high. I'm going to build bridges a mile long." So says George Bailey in the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. As it turns out, George is wrong. What he is supposed to do tomorrow is pretty much what he did today. God's plan for him is to do the ordinary thing—which, of course, is the last thing that George wants to do.
I don't think much about God's will because, like George Bailey, I know what I'm going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next year. (At least I think I do.) Get up and go to work. Come home and have dinner with my wife. Take a walk. Try to think of something to write about for my blog. Goals that are, for the most part, pretty low on the horizon.
Here is the irony: I am doing everything I dreamed of doing when I was in college. I am married to someone I love. And I'm teaching, writing, and preaching—but frankly not to the extent that I imagined when I wondered what God's plan for my life would look like. In those days I was aiming for the moon. God's will, revealed through the constraints and necessities of ordinary life, have compelled me to lower my expectations. His agenda for me seems far more commonplace. This has not always been easy to accept.
In Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eugene Peterson recounts the story of the fourth century church father Gregory of Nyssa whose brother Basil had arranged for him to be made bishop of Cappadocia. "Gregory objected," Peterson writes. "He didn't want to be stuck in such an out-of-theway place. His brother told him he didn't want Gregory to obtain distinction from his church but to confer distinction upon it." Is this not what Christ wants for us as well? To seek the good of the small places in which he has placed us and to confer distinction upon them by serving him with humility there? The path of glory is often an obscure one. It is the way of the cross.
—John Koessler, "George Bailey Lassos the Moon," on his blog A Stranger in the House of God (3-18-10)
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