Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thin Place, Pt. 2

I may lose some followers over this one, but I've decided that's ok, because this is what I've got, and it didn't come from nowhere.

Three days ago, I was driving south on I-81 when I witnessed a terrible accident across the highway, in the northbound lanes.  Having read this article, I know, now, that a tractor trailer traveling at least 60 mph struck three other vehicles, all of which were creep-crawling along because of clean-up from another accident a few miles up the road. 

Since I was driving, I didn't fully comprehend what was happening at the time, but I said to my sister-cousin: "Look!" as a tractor trailer started to slide down into the median.  I switched lanes for fear that the truck, or debris, would cross onto our side of the highway. 

As we drove past a smashed Pontiac, Andrea said, "Oh my goodness, Brandee Renee.  I don't even see a head in there."

Chilling.  I know, now, that everyone survived the accident, but--at the time--I didn't think there was any hope for the driver of the Pontiac.  It seemed probable that I had just witnessed someone being smashed to death, and it messed with my head.

I started thinking: it's happening all the time, everywhere.  People are dropping like flies from accidents, of cancer, of heart attacks, of starvation.  I came home: looked up the numbers.  There are about seven billion people on earth, and, every day, over 150,000 die.  Depressing, right?  And this will get darker before it gets brighter.  But hang in there with me.

I got to thinking: no one else I know aside from Andrea (and maybe Clementine) saw that driver get smashed to death.  What a crazy thing!  That driver's death...and life, for that matter...are completely meaningless to pretty much everyone I know!  And then I thought: well, I guess--in the great scheme of things--everyone's life is more meaningless than meaningful.  Take President Obama.  He's one of the most well-known people in this country, but there are just under two hundred countries in the world, and how many people in other countries know the name Obama?  I'm not afraid to reveal my ignorance and admit: I don't know the names of other countries' leaders.  And let's pretend everyone in the world does know who Obama is.  Who (especially outside of the U.S.) will recognize his name in one hundred years?

Then I thought, with surprise: oh my goodness!  I'm probably never going to be great in the ways I'd hoped!  (Go ahead and laugh: it's ok.)  My life is probably almost half over, and--with very little exception--the only people who know my name are, you know, people who know me.  And I guess it's that way with most people.  Some of us manage to send ourselves out into the world in bigger ways; however, most of us affect only those right in front of us, and our great opportunities lie within our direct circles of influence.  If we affect those in front of us well, they will affect others well, and those others will affect still more well, and so on and so throwing a stone into a lake and watching the water ripple out in bigger and bigger circles.

These are not new concepts.  In fact, I would argue that there are no new concepts, which is not--in and of itself--a new concept.  Consider Ecclesiasties 1:9 (KJV): "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."  But there comes a moment, sometimes, when I understand something I didn't understand, before.

The place at which I arrived after thinking--for a time--that I'd seen someone get smashed to death is that I really am ok with dying unknown to all but those who know me.  Also that--if I die a great wife, great mom, great daughtersisterfamilymember, great friend--those are enough claims to greatness.  I really just want to figure out how to say, "I love you," more often and in new ways.  That's what I really want.

I think I finally--after years and years--understand why people in the Christian community say, "It's not about you."  It's come to me now that I've decided to stop expecting (or aspiring to) greatness outside my circle of direct influence.  I get it, now: everyone is only one little person who will probably die unknown to everyone except those who actually know him or her.  We're all supposed to be working, together, to eliminate distractions and point everyone in the whole, huge wide world to Jesus.

I get why some Christians say, "It's not about you."  I really doI still think it's not a good idea to say it!  And here's why: God is not looking down on each of the 150,000 people who dies every day as a man looks down on an anthill.  God is not thinking, "Oh, too bad.  Another one just dropped dead.  But it's ok: there are seven billion more."

I am neither a stupid nor an uneducated person, and I have found it confusing and/or upsetting to hear John 3:16 (KJV): "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, " and Luke 12:7 (KJV): "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows," only to then hear, "It's not about you."  Perhaps it isn't about me in one sense, but--in another--it certainly is, isn't it?  God has a purpose for my life.  He wants me to be part of His great, intricate slide puzzle.  If I participate, I become great according to God's definition of greatness, which is the only one that matters.  Just because I've decided to follow Jesus doesn't mean it's not about me, anymore, because I am a child of the King!  He cares about my journey!  He wants me to continue to grow in my faith so that I might help others.

So part of the thin place in which I've been standing, recently, relates to my smallness but also to my potential for greatness...not necessarily by typical, human standards (my old standards!), but by God's standards, which are altogether different.

Please do share your thoughts.....


  1. You have so beautifully put to words something that has been on my mind and heart for quite some time.

  2. I keep thinking of a line from an old hymn--"My name is written on His hands." So nice to meet you, Brandee. Thanks for stopping by my place today. Blessings.

  3. I think the whole "it's not about you" thing is a direct reflection of the gospel - it is and it isn't (about you). I think you've nailed it here. I know, of course, where you heard that, and I have heard exactly what you've said here: in one sense, it is - and in another, it is not. From that same speaker. That it is, and it isn't.

    Seems like it's a direct correlation with the the greatest commandment - love God, love others. Both are about you...and not...

    I love the paradox of the Christian faith. It's a lot of both/ands. And the wrestling can be excruciating, painful, confusing - and glorious. Learning to live in the tension of both / and has been something I've gotten strangely used to.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. It's what encourages me (and others)...

  4. This is a good post. Makes me think about the small ways God can use us to impact many. I remember when my grandmother died. She was born, lived, and died in the same town. She was always generous, kind, giving, helpful - a picture of God for everyone - even those who mistreated her. She stuck it out with an unsaved but good man (my grandfather) until her prayers were answered and he yielded to the Lord. When she died her funeral was in a church that seated about 200-300 people. It was packed. Over the years her radiating the goodness of God spilled over to so many. I am one who received such goodness from her. She left a legacy of love, I try to follow her example - even as she followed Christ's. In our smallness, He makes us great, just where He plants us.

  5. And when it comes right down to it, if we are living for ANYONE but Him, we will not always make the best choices. I have to come to the place where I am listening to Him so intently that the rest of the voices are drowned out, and His is the voice that directs each and every one of my steps.

  6. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement, wise words, etc. @Anne, I love that about you.