The Bible never stops amazing me. Even if I have read a particular passage before, reading it again can be like approaching a sharp corner, forgetting exactly what lies around the bend, and then being completely surprised when I get there.
Reading 1 Peter 4 yesterday was like that for me. Our sermon at church was about how we live in “perilous times”—basically a wakeup call to the Church to realize that we live in a troubled world and that we should live accordingly. (At least I think that was what it was about—I admit to being a little distracted/interrupted by a crying baby and my own thoughts.) With that in mind, I read in 1 Peter 4:7 yesterday:
“The end of all things is at hand.”
At face value that phrase can seem a bit alarmist. The end of all things is at hand?
The end of my material possessions is at hand. Someday this house, these cars, the clothes I’m thinking of buying, the valances I’m trying to get hung at every window—none of that is going to last forever.
The end of America is at hand? It can certainly seem that way, depending on who you’re reading or what news you’re watching.
The end of the Western World is at hand? The end of logical thought is at hand? This is the end of the world as we know it?
There are all kinds of dramatic ways that phrase could potentially be interpreted. And it’s easy to jump from that idea to a feeling that if this is the end of the world, I must do something big. Now. I must make some sort of splash that is big enough to save the world and to turn the tide back to all things good.
This line of thought usually just paralyzes or disillusions me, because there is nothing big that I can seemingly do right now. I might hear something sad or disturbing on the news, and there is really nothing I can do about it.
It’s when I keep reading in this passage in 1 Peter that I’m surprised. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore …”
What do we do when it’s the end of the world as we know it? How should we live?
“Be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” Keep praying. Live a lifestyle such that you can really focus on and engage in prayer.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” When I hear some end-of-the-world piece of news, what can I do about it? Above all, love my husband. Love my kids. Love my family and friends and those God brings into my path. This is the above-all important thing. To my mind, it doesn’t always make sense that loving people around me, learning to build my marriage, figuring out how to parent these children, is really going to make such a difference in a fallen world—but this is what God tells me to do above all.
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” In other words, when we feel like the world is “going to hell in a hand basket,” what should we do to make a difference? Invite someone over for dinner. What?! Don’t You have something bigger for me, Lord?
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace ….” What do we do when it’s the end of the world? We use our gifts to serve people.
“…that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
Sometimes I have such messed up ambitions. I feel like if I can’t do something big, I may as well do nothing at all. (Maybe that's because I'm really seeking my own glory?) I forget that when God says, “It’s the end of the world,” He then tells me, “Here is what you should do” and it’s the little things like …
Be nice to my husband.
Read David a story, give Elanor a hug, feed Baby a bottle.
Have I texted back that friend who needs encouragement? Maybe we could get together for coffee.
Have I prayed today?
Invite that family over for dinner.
I have the gifts of teaching and caring for children. I can use these to serve.
These are the little Big things that God calls me to, that are going to bring change around me.
Over the past couple months, I have been really tempted to disillusionment. Sometimes the work I’m doing doesn’t seem to matter. I don’t see it making any difference. It’s in those darkest times that God calls us to keep being faithful, keep doing those little things, because we don’t realize how in God’s economy they are actually Big things, and He is working behind the scenes in ways we don’t understand.
I guess I’ll close with a picture of my husband doing a little Big thing. Aren’t they cute?