A non-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving post

~ where I affirm your significance, and mine

dead sparrowIn researching a topic for today’s post, I read a bunch of other blogs on various topics. Boy…a whole lot of people have even more things to say. Nothing like realizing you’re just one voice in a million to make you feel drowned out and insignificant. It made me want to forget the post altogether.

But here I am. (And so are you. Howdy. 🙂 )

Blogging for most of us who engage in it, I think it’s safe to say, is an effort to impact others. To be heard, and as a result of being heard to teach, persuade, entertain, or otherwise make a difference in the lives of our readers. When we get very little or no feedback we may feel like all the time, effort, and careful distinguishing between ideas, words, and tone were ill-spent. Like we’re speaking into empty space. Like the passion for written expression we can no more ignore than painful hunger pangs only drives us to satisfy a sorry substitute for significance.

Okay…that last line is a tad hyperbolic, but it is true that, speaking for myself now, I can’t just stop writing, even though I regularly consider it. I have a passion for promoting truth and understanding that I feel compelled to live out, and since I can be a real blubbering nervous Nellie when called upon to speak in public or just face-to-face, for me the written word is the way to go. So I blog. And I pray that my efforts bear fruit.

Which is a nice segue to the real point of this post. As I was pacing around the room thinking about what I wanted to say and how insignificant I felt, I spotted a nasty little bird nibbling berries on the tree right outside the window. [I don’t really think birds as a species are nasty…they’re fantastically designed creatures and all that. But a bunch of them regularly use my lawn as a toilet and others think they can just make themselves at home in my attic. So there’s no love lost between me and the rude little squatters.] And as I watched this very small creature just doing what God designed him to do, I was reminded of Jesus’ encouragement to his disciples that they were significant. Because he used a little birdie to tell them. Here’s what he said:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.1

In the context it seems Jesus was teaching them to trust God with their lives as they went out to preach as “sheep in the midst of wolves.”2 But the reason they could was not simply because God is able to protect them, but because they mattered to him. Even before they helped change the world, they were of great value to their heavenly Father.

So as I pondered my search for significance in light of this passage, I made a mental list of the following truths:

  1. All of us are significant to someone…spouse, friends, coworkers, parents, children. I thought about how precious my children are to me, and how they have been since even before they were born and had done anything at all…simply by virtue of their existence.
  2. A desire for significance is frequently a desire for recognition and praise in disguise, and I have often read, heard, or seen testimony that achieving a position of prominence or influence does not in itself satisfy. Like this quote from comedian Jim Carrey: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
  3. Few individuals influence great numbers of people, but we all have a few individuals we can influence. If we are seeking greater influence, we are likely overlooking ways we could be positively impacting the lives of those around us.
  4. And most importantly, I am of great significance to God because he made me in his image and loves me even more than I love those I helped create. No matter how influential I am or become, I will never be more significant to him than I am right now.

If you can affirm these truths, then you can know your life has significance. And as you gather November-Turkey-Clipart-4with family and friends tomorrow, enjoying the only kind of bird I like (on my dinner plate!), include in your list of blessings for which you are thankful the fact that you matter to God, as well as to those in your circle.

And while you’re at it, thank him for those in your circle who matter to you. If they happen to be within earshot, your few heartfelt words will significantly impact them for their good. If they’re not, send a little birdie to tell them.

1 Matthew 10:29-31
2 Matthew 10:16