It was a Saturday morning in California and my heart was heavy knowing that my husband, Danny, was going into another week of chemotherapy. With a few rounds under his belt, we were all well aware of the difficulties the week ahead held. My stomach tightened with dread each time it came to mind.
But something else was gnawing away at me. There was a sadness that hung heavy over me as I grieved the life of missionary work that we had to suddenly leave behind us in the Philippines when he was diagnosed with a high-grade sarcoma cancer. I could feel the battle of emotions and truth warring in my soul–and I was struggling.
I called my Dad on his Saturday evening at home in Northern Ireland. It wasn't long into the chat when he knew what was going on in my heart, could see it in my eyes through our FaceTime call, and could hear it in my voice.
"You miss it all, don't you?" he asked me quietly. "You miss the ministry, the busyness of life, the purpose and the hum of life in the village."
Tears sprung instantly to my eyes. I missed it all so much. Yes, I knew it was often a hard life. I was well aware of the things and the comforts I was living without, but I loved the purpose in my day and people dropping continually by our house. Homeschool and language-learning were difficult to balance every day, but with the weariness each night, there was also a sense of accomplishment and contentment in doing something "that counts."
Since Danny's diagnosis and needing to move back to the States for a season, I am well aware of how little I have to offer. It has left me feeling a little lost, a little empty.
My Dad continued to talk me through the truth of where the Lord has us right now. "This is a season He has you in, Philippa. Not to punish you, but to prepare you and refine you. Your calling, your place, your purpose right now is to be a helpmate to Danny as he goes through this trial. You are to be a wife and a mother, that is what the Lord is calling you to, today."
"But it is so much harder." I got the words out. "It's so much harder to be set aside when I want to do so much more. I feel like I am nobody, doing nothing."
As soon as I had the words out and let them free, the Lord replaced them with His words which challenged my heart. I felt the wave of conviction when Colossians 3:17 flashed through my mind:
And whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
And interestingly, the following verses are all to do with the family relationships. Husbands to wives, wives to husbands, children to parents, and employees to employers. Verse 23 sums it up again: "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men."
It's easier to serve when we can see the outcome of our service. It's easier to sacrifice when others are applauding what we do. It is easy to get up and do when others are watching, but what about when they aren't?
Are we willing to serve Jesus in the unseen places of our homes? Are we content to simply give an account to our Heavenly Father, or do we need to report on the good we have done to others?
We can feel unseen, unimportant and like a bunch of nobodies doing nothing, but that simply isn't what God tells us in His Word. As we place our faith in Him for salvation, He claims us by His blood as part of His Body and this is the truth that gives our lives purpose. I am His and He is mine, and that changes everything forever.
It means, as a child of God, my life is hidden with Christ–it is eternal. The most simple and mundane things I do in my life may not seem like they count, but when I live them as unto the Lord, seeking to please Him above all else and living according to His Word, it counts for all eternity. And though no one may ever know or see the things we think, pray, do, or feel, God does. Every moment of our day He is present with us.
A few weeks ago, our little boy Judah was given a wonderful gift which arrived in the mail. It was a set of geode rocks. When we opened the packaging and took out the bags of rocks, they were the most normal, uneven, dull grey bunch of rocks you could ever see. There was nothing attractive or interesting about them. Had they been sitting on the ground I wouldn't have taken a second look at them.
Danny and Judah got some hammers and chisels, and they kept gently tapping away on the outside of the rock until it split wide open. And then we could see what was going on inside– crystals. Shiny, white beautiful crystals were displayed inside that boring old rock. They glistened as they reflected the sun, and wonder was all over our little boy's face. Hidden treasure.
I have thought back to those rocks a few times this past week, in light of all these verses. We are not all called to public ministries and to lead interesting and exciting lives, but we are called out, as children of God, to live our lives as unto Him. To live out the mundane, ordinary roles of our days with the knowledge that it has eternal consequences when we live to please Jesus as our main role of all.
We can't see it right now, we often don't even feel it, but stored up inside our hearts is an everlasting treasure that will be revealed on the day when we stand face to face with our Savior. When we lay down our lives before Him, all will be open before Him and every thought, every deed, whether seen or unseen, whether lived in the mundane or in the celebrations will be counted up and displayed for His glory and honor.
We can make an idol of any role no matter how good it may be–missionary, mother, teacher, and helper by seeking our purpose and pleasure within the job itself instead of completely and fully within Jesus alone. However, when any task, no matter how small, is done from an overflow of our love for Jesus and our desire to please Him, our hearts will be full and we will know contentment and peace.
This is something I know so well in my head, but I am asking the Lord to help me to live it out. I miss our life in the Philippines so much, and we pray the Lord will allow us to return to our lives and ministry there again. But as we wait on His will for our future, I want to keep serving Him with all my heart and soul, today. I may never feel like I am doing anything important. I may never see the results of the daily surrender, but I believe it counts, simply because He tells us it does in His Word.
What a privilege the Lord gives us to make everything we do and every day we live matter for all eternity, simply by loving Him, obeying Him, and seeking His will.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:18
So, dear one, who like me, may be struggling with your purpose right now–let me remind you that your purpose may not always have a job title or a ministry title, but you are called out by the Lord into a life of purpose as you follow and obey Him with all your heart. When we keep Jesus the object of our goals and affections, He will lead us and direct us as He sees fit, and we need not worry about the outcome.
One day, we will lay these every day, ordinary lives of ours down at the feet of Jesus and wonder will be all over our faces when our daily unseen surrender and obedience, glistens in the reflection of the Son. Hidden treasure.