I’d been thinking about her all day. She’d popped up in my mind several times over the past few weeks, and now today, I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
Standing in front of the window with a bag of peanut butter M&Ms, I stared out at the fading evening light as I began to grasp what it was about her that had so captured me.
Jackie was strong in every sense of the word. As a young mom, she suffered through the death of her son. I heard stories of her always singing, as she went about daily tasks. Raising 3 children, taking good care of her husband, always exercising, always in the garden, planting and watering and harvesting and singing. She was alive, healthy, vibrant, strong. She loved the Lord with all her heart.
Every time I’d visit her, I saw a vibrancy in her eyes that made me hopeful. I was young when we’d visit, but I always felt happy in her presence. A peace and contentment with life would fill me. I realize now that I was picking up on the rhythms of her heart. This is how she felt on the inside – genuinely content, happy, peaceful. As a woman, she was brilliant and confident, proud to be who she was. She seemed to always have extra energy to give and serve, and to laugh.
I wasn’t with her while she lay in the hospital in the last few weeks of her life. She hadn’t wanted me to see her so frail and weak. She hadn’t wanted me to remember her that way, for that picture of her to be the last image I had. But I heard what she had said as she lay there so weak, so sick and in pain, everyone present asking if she was hurting or sad.
My mother was with her. She had asked her several times those questions. “Are you in pain?” “Are you sad?” “Are you hurting?” And each time in response, a shaking of her head, no.
It was confusing. How could she not be in pain and sad? Her health was failing her, after all these years of being so vibrant, full of energy and able to do everything even in such old age. She knew this was it. This was her life closing in on its final chapter. How could anyone not be sad about saying goodbye to life, especially a life lived so abundantly, so joyfully?
Finally, my mother, not knowing what else to say, simply asked “Are you happy?”
A nodding of her head. Yes.
Yes, she was happy.
Laying in the hospital preparing to leave this earth, she was happy.
With the natural eye, we observe the world around us – who appears to have the most power, the loudest voice, the most followers, the biggest audience, the largest influence.
But what if our perspective on power and influence and greatness was all wrong?
What if we zoomed in on people like Jackie, whose lives and stores appear weak and
those who live their lives outside of the limelight, whose stories seem quiet, who are faithful and influencing a small handful of people throughout their lifetime, are those who actually have the loudest voices?
What if these quieter lives are actually the loudest because their life’s work carries divine momentum throwing it far and long into history and will continue on farther than one could even imagine?
Think about those who wake up before anyone else to sit and converse with God. Those who do right and act with justice behind closed doors with no one watching. Those who keep getting up and faithfully doing the task in front of them, day after day, for years and years, with a heart set on serving the Lord. Those who pray in their bedrooms and worship in their closets. Those who contend and intercede on behalf of the darkness and evil in this world, and have never been on a stage in front of multitudes.
Although this world is loud and there are many with great power, wealth, influence and greatness, there are also those who appear to have little power and wealth with much influence and greatness.
There’s power in what is unseen.
I’d like to say that maybe God was right when He told us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood…”(Eph. 6:12) and that perhaps what is unseen is as powerful, more powerful, than what is seen.
That perhaps the 18-year-old boy whose heart is on fire for Christ and prays in his bedroom for a righteous government in America is actually as powerful as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
That perhaps the 31-year-old stay at home mom who cries out for justice for the oppressed while she does laundry or the dishes, is actually as powerful as Taylor Swift.
That perhaps the young student going to school and faithfully putting in long hours of studying to become a lawyer and stand up for righteousness and justice because he wants to make a huge mark on his corner of the world through integrity and standing up for what’s right, is actually as powerful as the top Wall Street executive.
All of these people whose lives are on the stage before the world appear to affect our world the most. And certainly, they do have a major cultural influence and voice, and are affecting many lives by what they do, in the driver’s seat of the vehicle of modern culture.
However, what if it was possible to shape history with just as much significance right where you are, right now, with no audience, no tribe, no fan club?
I’m here to say that it is possible.
We have no idea how far our choosing Him day by day will reach into the future, how it will shape this earth. We have no idea of the magnitudes of His power through small lives who say yes to Him, who partner with Him in prayer, who see with His eyes, who do what they can where they are with what they have. Who invest in those that come into their lives, be it one or one hundred. Who do not shy away from doing something just because it seems small. Who are good stewards of the little they’ve been entrusted with, and don’t despise it.
You don’t have to have a microphone to your lips, or a stage to stand on, or a massive following on social media, to have a great and significant effect, to leave a strong mark, to make a name for God, and carry on His fame, and pass down a legacy of faith, and a heritage of blessing.
All you need is a heart turned toward Him, and ear tuned to His voice, and obedience to say yes to whatever He may ask.
These people can be janitors, or CEOs. They can be in high school, or in their eighties. They can be women or men, creative or logical, introverted or extroverted, single or married, black or white.
This calling is no respecter of persons. The most powerful people in the world are not who we think. The shapers of our culture are not always who they appear to be. They’re not always the ones on the stage.
They’re the ones whose lives may seem quiet and small. The ones who aren’t recognized in public. The ones who know only their circle of people in their corners of the world. The difference is, they have chosen to live loud before God. They have chosen to say yes. They have chosen the better way.
There are some God calls to have a stage, a microphone, a name before the masses. And most certainly, He will use those to affect great change.
But there are many who He calls to affect great change who will never be seen or heard except for the small handful that know them.
My grandmother was one of those. Her life was small and quiet, and unknown is the fullness of all the daily choices she made to say yes to God. But her life is already gaining momentum and preparing to echo far into eternity. Her influence is multiplying, through her children, through their children (me) and will keep on going far down the line of the generations. The way she lived compels me to be that kind of person, though I knew her only by letters and occasional visits. Her legacy is one of greatness.
She definitely made her mark.