“If you must choose between Bible and breakfast, choose Bible, and grab an energy bar. Then plan better. Man shall not live by bread alone.” John Piper
This really made me chuckle, but if you know anything about John Piper, he is not kidding about that breakfast bar. He wrote an entire book about not wasting your life. Perhaps this is a perspective that comes with age and hindsight, but I find myself resonating quite a bit with what he’s saying. Don’t be wasteful with your time, your talents or your calling. That old saying ‘the days are long but the years are short’ is so very true.
We inhabit a big, loud world where the only way to get any attention is to be big and loud. We are supposed to hustle and be fierce and do hard things, at least that’s what all the coffee cups tell me. Honestly, I don’t wake up feeling fierce or fearless or any of those things. Most days, I just wake up… tired. The last person I need more of is myself, so when I scroll my phone and read things like “I am my own healer, protector, muse… what I have to offer is limitless”, I feel a little nauseated. Sometimes I literally can’t remember what day it is, so to be my own muse or healer is a bit much. All this inward focus, this incessant need to be bigger than we actually are, it’s sucking the very life right out of us. Have you noticed it lately? When everyone is big, no one is. It’s like the crazy awards shows on TV… there are so many now that no one pays attention to any of them. Everyone is so busy congratulating themselves, no one is impressed but them. I can say the same for the selfie phenomenon… the longer you spend editing that picture, the less impressed I am. It’s off-putting when others do it, but still our flesh pushes us to keep sticking our big faces out there for recognition. It’s fascinating really. How do we navigate this trap? Is being small the same as being insignificant? Piper puts it this way:
“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments were are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”
I’d like to stand at the Grand Canyon and feel small. I would not like to be the self-obsessed tourist trying to get that perfect filtered shot of myself overlooking the biggest hole on earth. Does anyone remember traveling before the invention of the smart phone and selfie stick? You could just be present in the moment and not worry about how you were going to share this moment with the entire free world. I cried the first time I sat in Notre Dame Cathedral because I felt so small. I was in total awe of the men who built such a place and the God they served. Even staring out the window of an airplane is enough to put things into perspective.
The self-focus thing is such a tiresome, dead-end road. One of the things I’ve realized with my own family is how much better we function when we get out of our own selfish little patterns and go join in something bigger than we are. Some days that means just getting up and going to church. We really do have to be reminded these days that there is an actual world outside our door with actual (not virtual) people who may need us. Irony of ironies, the more we bask in our own little world trying to make ourselves big, the smaller and more insignificant we become.
I saw this list while looking up Piper’s book, and though it reads a bit harsh at first, I think it is spot on.
What do all these things have in common? Choosing to place self over Jesus. Making myself big while I shrink Him down to nothing. It’s that simple. So the original question maybe is more serious than I thought: do I sacrifice anything at all to just be with Jesus? Would I settle for the silly breakfast bar if it meant settling my heart for the day? I’d like to think I would, but some days I’m not so sure, because, well #6 on that list…
So, help us Jesus, to run the race set before us, to bear our cross daily, to humble ourselves and be made small so that You have room to do big things. Help us to maybe leave the selfie stick at home and go feel small in a big world.