I don’t know about you, but every once in a while, I am reading something and I come across a truth that I have read before, and discover I have never read this before!
Last week, I prepared and presented a sermon about Jesus – the carpenter. For his family, friends and acquaintances, he was not a prophet, great teacher and certainly not the Messiah!
“Him, oh yeah, I know him, he’s Mary’s son.”
“Oh yeah, Jesus, the carpenter from down the corner — they live next to the row of cedar trees.”
Now, I knew those verses and that story. But while preparing for that sermon, I came across some other verses that somehow had just never sunk into my mind. Had I read them? No doubt.
Had I understood them? No.
When Christ began his ministry and his family heard about it, they accused him of having gone mad, and acting on that belief, tried to take charge of him as if he did not know what he was doing.
‘When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind”’ (Mark 3:21)
‘For even his own brothers did not believe in him’ (John 7:5)
When I manage to get past my own shock of not having noticed these verses, I then started ruminating on a vastly bigger topic that came up for me while I was preparing the sermon:
How often do we shrink ourselves down to make other people more comfortable?
Thinking on my own life, I can recall a number of times that someone said to me “Sometimes you frighten me” – and not because I had any macabre plans! Simply because I was daring to put into words some hopes or dreams for myself or my life.
Many times, we think we could dare to do and live bigger. We could dare to elevate ourselves to a new level. But then someone says “tone it down”, and in order to fit in and get approval, we tone down our dreams and accept living at a level they are comfortable with.
Jesus’ family thought he was crazy! They tried to drag him home and tell him to behave. You just need to be “normal”.
I remember the first time I heard Odetta read this poem:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love (or listen it by Odetta)
Am I living to my full potential?
Is really the best I have to show?
Is this the best I can do with my gifts & talents?
If you have read any of my previous sermons or posts on Shekinah, you may already have come across this, my favourite quote from C.S. Lewis:
The command Be ye perfect [Matt. 5:48] is not idealistic gas.
Nor is it a command to do the impossible.
He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command.
He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and he is going to make good His words.
If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness.
The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for.
He meant what he said.
In what areas of your life are you living small?
Are you failing to prepare yourself for something bigger and better? Choosing to watch a little more TV and do a little less reading or thinking?
Are you allowing yourself to stay stuck in a job or place that really is not good for you, too “stuck” to move on?
Are you keeping friends that don’t accept that you rise up further in your life? Are they going to pull you back “to where you belong”?
When you begin to live in God’s presence, meditating each day on what it means to be full of light, you begin to realise that living and playing small serves no one! If you aren’t ready to serve, then train and prepare. If you aren’t ready to train and prepare, then read and establish good habits. If you aren’t ready to read and establish good habits, then get unstuck. But move forward into the light of acceptance of your higher calling.
We are all called, no matter how small and insignificant we may think we are, to reflect back to our Creator the boundless power and delight and goodness of Spirit within.
This little light of mine – I’m gonna’ let it shine!