I spent the last few days in a small rural Saskatchewan town, surrounded by my husband’s family, celebrating the life of his Grandpa who had passed into the presence of Jesus at 103 years old. For the past 70 plus years, he had lived in a small farming community of less than a thousand people, farming his land, raising his kids, and going to church. Nothing special. Nothing significant. Nothing grand. Just an ordinary man, living a simple, ordinary life.
Most of us, if we think about it, want our lives to be grand. Important. To matter. We want to make a big impact in our communities and social circles. We want to stand out and be remembered. And yet, as I reflected on Grandpa’s life this week, I couldn’t help but think, this small town farmer lived big.
Almost four years ago we had gathered as a family to celebrate his 100th birthday, and Grandpa was adamant that the focus not be on him but on God. He wanted the gospel preached at his party in case there was anyone there who hadn’t heard it before or who needed to hear it again. And now, as we all reunited to send him off to his eternal home, the same message was declared loud and clear:
Grandpa knew what was important. He knew his purpose. And he lived it. It didn’t matter that he was only a farmer. It didn’t matter that he lived in a small town that no one had heard of. It didn’t matter that not many outside the community would ever know his name. Grandpa served where he was. He lived intentionally where he was. And he made a difference in the community in which God had placed him.
Isn’t this what we’re all called to? To bring glory to God and make Him known, wherever we may find ourselves and to whomever God has placed before us? We have a purpose! It’s to impact those around us! And in living it out, we will find ourselves living big. Our God is a big God and He is able to do more than anything we could ask or imagine. And so, doesn’t it make sense, that in living for and serving this God, we too, in the power of His name, could do far more than we could ever think or imagine? That our small, simple and sometimes mundane lives could make a substantial difference?
I’m guilty of making God too small in my life. Living as though my ordinary life is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, instead of intentionally woven together. Joseph understood God’s intentionality. He saw how God had orchestrated his life, even the hardships and sufferings, for His greater purpose and His glory. Joseph recognized that God had shaped him, moved him, and placed him in the company of specific people throughout his entire life so that through his obedience, many lives would be saved.
What if we believed, like Joseph, that God is intentional about who He lays in our path? That our neighbours, coworkers and friends, are not random placements, but divine encounters and
opportunities for us to serve, to minister and to love. Would our interactions and relationships look different if we believed this?
If we viewed the people in our lives as eternal souls in need of Jesus, placed in our path for a specific reason, would it change the way we live out our “normal”? Would we be more intentional about meeting our neighbours or engaging with the parents on our kid’s sports team? Would our relationships take on greater purpose and meaning? Would the message of the gospel seem more urgent?
We don’t have to be famous or important to leave a lasting impact. We don’t have to reach thousands of people to make a difference. And we don’t have to manipulate our places or circumstances to serve well or change lives. Joseph served while in prison. Grandpa served in small town Saskatchewan. And yet, both left a lasting legacy. Grandpa’s may never be recorded in the history books as Joseph’s was, but he, nonetheless, was a mighty man of God who’s lasting legacy has impacted three plus generations of family and friends. I believe that when Grandpa came into the presence of Jesus last Friday, he was told: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matt 25:21) And I believe, that like Joseph, Grandpa can say he was sent ahead of us, his family, by God, to save lives. There is no better purpose or legacy than that.