Do you ever find yourself asking the question, “does it really matter?”
“Do my daily choices matter? Do the habits I make matter? Does my work matter? Does my life matter?”
I ask myself those questions a lot. I ask God those questions a lot too. In the monotony of day to day life, I often wonder quite frankly if any of “this”– life, work, struggles, responsibilities– matters. Deep down, I want to know “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3). Is everything really just vanity? Does everything just crumble to dust?
I know in my head, of course I matter, I was thought up in the mind of God, and of course what I do matters, I am where he called me to be. But doubt is my best friend, and to borrow the Spanish terms what I saber (know by facts) in my head is not always what I conocer (know by experience) in my heart.
I used to have this idea that if anyone in life had work that really mattered, it would be a missionary. I mean, you can’t get more purposeful as a Christian than leaving everything to serve God in a different country, right? If anyone had meaningful work it would be the ones who are actively leading people to God, right? There was almost this golden haze of meaning surrounding the life of a missionary.
But the truth is, missionary, or working in the states, the doubts are still there and the question of meaning and purpose is always lurking in the background. Surprise! The question of “does this really matter?” doesn’t change and it doesn’t go away.
I think people are always looking for meaning and reassurance in the work they do in life. Is the thing that we pour our every drop of life and every ounce of passion making a difference? We all want what we do to “matter,” but meaning, value, and success is defined a little differently by each person, country, and culture.
Does it really matter? For me, I like to be able to answer that question with results: facts, numbers, and figures. I like success to be easy to measure and easy to see. I want something to show for my work. I like tangible results to assure me of the fact that I really matter.
Recently, I have taken a pivot in the ministry work I have been doing in Honduras. I decided to step away from the school and explore other facets of ministry. That has led me to helping Micah on the farm, going out to villages, doing office work, visiting the pregnancy center, and even getting involved with a local deaf ministry. Every day is a little different and I get to experience a different part of the goodness of God. And while it may sound romantic on paper in the day to day aspect the romanticism is easily wiped away.
Feeding chickens, stumbling through half cohesive Spanish conversations, answering emails, serving arroz con leche to pregnant women, and cleaning up after kids hardly seems like kingdom work or work that really “matters.”
A few weeks ago I got a message from a high school friend. I have seen her maybe once since high school, aside from the occasional photos and comments on instagram. She told me her and her husband had been talking about how they had met and realized it was because I had invited her to come to church. She shared, “Thanks to a small gesture and church invite my life is on a completely new and Godly path.”
To tell you the truth, I don’t remember exactly when we met or that I invited her to church. Those memories have faded into the mundane day-to-day moments of my life. But she remembers. To me I never imagined that something as small as an invitation could truly matter to someone.
But I think that is God’s secret. He works more in the day-to-day motions than the mountain top highs. Sometimes the things that seem small to us or the work that seems in vain is actually where God works to change lives. And we don’t always get to see the results.
So to answer the question does it really matter? The facts and figures I want to use to measure the value of my work and my success are meaningless– they are vanity. Your work doesn’t need to matter for you to matter. God knows what matters, even if you don’t always understand, and that is enough. God works in the daily motions and movements in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. All he asks is that we remain faithful to him.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going…These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth… But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:8-16).