I bet I’m not the only one who plays this game. The comparison game. Yeah, I think you know what I’m talking about. Your neighbor just pulled up in their brand new Mercedes while you were out doing your typical MacGyver routine as you duck tape the exhaust pipe on your ’87 Honda. You find yourself surrounded by a thousands of 18 year olds while you take your College introductory classes years after you “were supposed to” as a 40 something year old single mom. The guys invite you to lunch, but deep inside you know your bank account is in the red after that gastronomical electric bill you just paid. Everyone your age is popping out babies and there you are with empty arms and an empty bank account as you try desperately to pay off your fertility treatment bills and fund your child’s adoption all while trying not loosing it every time someone pops the question, “So, do you think you’ll ever have kids?” Perhaps you go to pick your kids up from detention in your sweaty yoga pants after bouncing from the night shift to laundry to grocery shopping to mowing the lawn and your eye catches the room mom in her pumps and pearls putting together goody bags for the class party. Or maybe it’s all the vivacious families in your neighborhood that only remind you of that inadvertently cause you to feel like one forgotten, solitary life as a single person, widow, or widower. Or if you’re like me, you meet another blogger who writes has a column something bogus like JarJar Binks and claims they don’t have many hits to their website…only about 13 THOUSAND a month and you shrink back in a defeated state as you reflect upon the minuscule stats which accompany your blog intended for truth,justice, and God’s way. Comparison. It surely can make you aware of what you lack. No matter what you are measuring yourself against, you’ll always find there is room for discouragement when you look at your peers. But what if we were to take those thoughts and twist them a little by placing them next to a different measuring stick?
After carefully examining my blog statistics with my husband recently, I saw just how few people I was reaching according to Google Analytics. My heart sunk. The very name of my blog is “Reaching Beyond My Reach.” Gazing at the charts, I felt like I was reaching no one. It seemed to be no number worth being proud of in comparison to my blogging peers. But my husband didn’t let me stay in that mode. No, he made me toughen up whether I liked it or not. The Holy Spirit used him to convict me. We looked through my Search Engine Optimization key word searches. I started cringing when noticing that nearly ever key word was used only to find my recipes, not my blogs. I felt like my idea to include recipes and travel pieces to bring in traffic that may not otherwise have been looking for a little dose of hope and truth from a Biblical perspective had backfired and overshadowed my primary goal. As we scrolled through those key words, something caught our eyes that made me a little nauseous. “Choose Your Own Ending Erotic Stories,” was what we read in the list of keyword searches. Someone had typed those words into their internet browser and come to my article, “Choose Your Own Ending (or Beginning) Stories.” My husband stood there with his hands on my shoulders proclaiming God’s truth to me, “Don’t you get it, Emily?! This is a big deal. Someone was searching for something that could destroy their family and they landed on your site instead. What are you going to do about each of these people that you ARE reaching? Do those people count for nothing? This is cause for rejoicing, not feeling sorry for yourself! How are you praying for the people who ARE coming to your site?”
Don’t you hate it when your significant other is right and you are wrong? It’s the worst. Or maybe the best. It’s both.
Whether he made me feel better or not, the fact still remains that I don’t have hundreds, thousands, or millions reading my blog. Building a blog readership is certainly important. But what’s more important is trusting what I DO have with the one who owns and rules over every thing upon this earth.
What if God has trusted me with a small resource right now so He can show off His HUGE resources?
He’s done it before.
Gideon was the vessel of choice a few thousand years ago. Gideon was threshing wheat when God added to his name, “Mighty warrior.” Say what? Yeah. I bet he didn’t see that coming.
I was just a housewife when God confirmed that in addition to the name, “Emily,” I would have the name, “Writer.” I started hearing God whisper my additional name in second grade when I began writing plays for my classmates to perform, then in high school as I thrived in English courses, and even in college when I decided that someday I wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t actually hear and receive this new name until I was simply a housewife. I don’t know if you know this or not, but a housewife makes a whopping $0 per year. A writer who starts out on their own makes roughly the same amount. And there aren’t many people in the house to brainstorm with during the work day. Heck- in my case- the only other living being in my workspace during the day is my dog, Oscar. He’s not one for much conversation. But he sure offers a lot of cuddling and supportive eyes for this writer.
Just as people probably thought it sounded crazy for the guy who was in charge of threshing wheat to become the commanding officer for an entire nation’s army, I’m sure people have thought this housewife of working age making no money is somewhat crazy for being a writer for a miniature audience while maintaining the same salary. But it’s what God has called me to do. He’s in charge of multiplying my resources and my reach as He gives me the wisdom and opportunities to do so.
Somehow, Gideon managed to wrangle up 32,000 people to fight for Israel. Thirty. Two. Thousand. People. Not a bad readership tally if you’re a blogger and certainly nothing to sneeze at for the size of an army. But God only wanted to use 300 of those individuals. Oh. And the “weapons” God told them to use were trumpets, and empty jars with torches inside of them. He knew Gideon’s army would be victorious. But He wanted no room for personal bragging. He wanted it to be obvious that they only won because of His victorious and mighty hand upon them.
I think He wants that with me, too. In comparison with other folks, I’ve only got a couple dozen who have signed up for my blog emails. I’ve got a hundred and a half or so who might see my articles on FaceBook. When I look at people who seem to have figured out the tricks of the trade much more efficiently than I have, I often find myself discouraged.
There’s nothing wrong with examining questions such as, “What am I missing? What am I doing wrong? What works? What doesn’t work? How can I reach more people?” In fact, we should ask ourselves those questions.
But there’s a question so much more vital to a successful blog…to a successful life…
And that is, “How can God multiply the resources He has already given me for His glory?”
Better yet, as I’ve been challenged in my study by Priscilla Shirer on Gideon, “How can God use my 300 vs 32,000?”
I heard this phrase repeatedly in my undergraduate days, “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him” (Dr.Jerry Falwell).
I must admit I’ve felt pretty discouraged with my “300” as of late. Probably because my “300” is actually far less than that. But with my “300”, I have been given a far greater opportunity than someone with “32,000”.
In this moment, it is time for God to show Himself mighty through my small voice and to cause it to echo just as the noises from the trumpets shattered the clay pots to reveal the torches that Gideon’s army carried as their greatest weapons.
God’s into big numbers, but He’s also into small numbers.
He sent His Son, Jesus, to seek and save all who are lost that day He sacrificed His life for the entire world.
But He cared enough about each of the individuals who comprise the whole world to remind us that even if one sheep were to go astray, He wouldn’t rest until He found that lone lamb.
What are you measuring yourself by? The successes others have or the calling God Himself has spoken over your life? Do you care about the ideals of the masses or the individual hearts that beat in the soul of each face in the multitude?
What is your “300”?
Maybe it seems absurd that you go back to college as a middle aged single mom, but what message are you sending to your built in congregation? You know…those two little faces that watch everything you do and hold onto your every word?
Perhaps it sounds preposterous that you go about your work thanklessly, yet faithfully, while others higher up get the credit and the raise.
Or maybe it perplexes your neighbors to see your old jalopy tootling down the road while living on a prayer while others are blessed by the generosity of your stewardship in meeting their needs above your own.
Could it be that your empty wallet at the lunch table offers more room to offer a listening ear rather than stuffing your mouth to hinder you from offering a few words of encouragement?
Would it be so wild to think that your empty womb could serve as a vacant room at the inn for an orphan who dreams of a forever family?
Do you wonder if maybe your ever-aware sense of loneliness stirs your heart to pray or go beyond your front door step to see how you can help someone else who is hurting?
You may be small, but He is mighty.
You may only have 5 loaves and 2 fish, but He can feed 5,000 or more that are hungry.
You may only have “300”, but His power is infinite.
When He chooses not to give you “32,000” as a resource, and gives you “300” instead, the victory is so much richer because He has so much more room to win.
And that is when 300 is greater than 32,000.
“And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” Judges 7:7 ESV