I belong to the generation of ‘history maker’ Christians. From various festivals and stages, we as teenagers were told that we could do big things for God. We were told to dream big and aim high. We heard stories of people smuggling Bibles into communist countries, of indigenous tribes being introduced to God, of drug addicts being healed. We were taken into local towns and cities to pray, evangelise and see healings. We were pumped up and inspired. God is big. He wants to do big things through you. All amazing stuff, all true stories and all inspiring.
But my life doesn’t look like this now. Am I being a history maker? Probably not. I am living a normal life. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. I did the gap years; I went to Africa and I went to America. I studied the Bible, I did my theology degree. I was all set for God to use me. I was going to have faith; I was going to ‘go for it’. And then life happened. I got ME for a while. I got married. I didn’t land on my feet in the dream job. I have followed God, but He hasn’t handed my calling to me on a plate. In fact, sometimes I ask God to call me to something concrete, and what I get is a red light. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an active Christian. I go to church, I follow God, I’m married to a vicar. But I’m also a stay-at-home mum without much time or energy to change the world.
And so I wonder, what about those of us that feel like we keep getting red lights from God? What about most of the Christians that I know that are living a fairly normal life? Who haven’t sold their houses and moved to Africa? Who tick the middle class, 2.2 kids box? What about those of us who aimed for the stars and are yet to take off?
Have we failed God? Has God failed us? Are we living up to our self-proclaimed title of ‘history makers’?
This is a question that I struggled with for a long time. Why, when I was so passionate about God using me, has He put me on a path where I often watch ministry from the sidelines, while I’m doing the childcare? But then, instead of questioning my life and what God is doing with me, I started to question the message that we need to live big and do big things. Because isn’t that what the world tells us, as well?
Life in many ways has become an panic-inducing tick list of achievements. Land a dream job, buy a house, find a soulmate, have children while maintaining the amazing career, have a great social life. Be happy, go on adventures, see the world. Write a bucket list. Don’t get chubby; look your best. All good things to aspire to.
But along with these goals comes the fast-paced, anxiety-ridden culture that we find ourselves in today. There is so much pressure on us to perform, to be happy, to look good, to achieve. Busyness is an accolade that means that we are doing well. A crazy social life just means that we’re popular. The pressure is causing many of us to collapse and breakdown. It’s everywhere. We can’t come up for air. We can’t escape all of the expectation that weighs down on us. We can’t reach the end of our to-do lists.
And it makes me wonder why God would call the Church to mirror this lifestyle. Why He would call us to be superhero-type figures that have a full diary doing more and more for Him – while maintaining a healthy family and social life, as well. I don’t think He would. Not for all of us, anyway. For many of us, possibly the most revolutionary thing we could do at the moment is to live life slow, and live it well.
The obstacles and hurdles that we face aren’t to be dodged as though they get in the way of God using us. There are times in our lives where we have to live with the empty spaces. For me, it’s the lack of direction. It’s feeling the itch to do more and not knowing how. For others it’s illness. It’s struggling to have children. It’s ploughing on week after week for God and not seeing results. For some of us, it’s having felt a big calling in the past and discovering it’s yet to be realised the way we imagined. It’s being poised to do something big, but having a tragedy pull the rug from under our feet before we begin. It’s being housebound. It’s being disabled. It’s living with mental health issues. Does God not want to use these people as history makers? Or does the gospel redefine what a history maker is?
God requires faithfulness from us. That’s it. He’s not concerned with how outwardly big or small this looks. In fact, there’s something beautiful about daily faithfulness in the midst of real, gritty, hard life, if we’re not shying away from His whisper and guidance.
Millennials are known for valuing authenticity, and they need to see this authenticity from Christians. More meetings and more services might actually be less effective for them than seeing a life lived well for God. They want us to practice what we preach. They want us to be different. To offer a new way of living. And our culture is crying out for people who are brave enough to say no to the pressures and expectations put on them. To live a slower life. To not need to make a big bang. To dare to take time to reflect on the day. To dare to believe that the amount that God does doesn’t depend on the amount that we do.
And yes, this message isn’t for everyone. Apathetic Christianity exists as well, and maybe for some people they do need to aim higher and press in more. But when we are following God and still feeling bound and held back, that is when we need to take heart.
The real history makers are those who live faithfully in the midst of struggle and in the midst of mundanity. They are those who don’t dodge the empty spaces like they’re an inconvenience, striving to be someone else, but who live with the boundaries placed on them. Because that’s real life, and that’s what will speak to people.
I still want to be a history maker. But I’ve discovered that in God’s economy, this means that I shrink so that He is made bigger. It means that I follow Him even if the path I’m on does not make sense to me.
*Note: Delirious seemed to understand what history makers really are when they used the song ‘History Maker’ in worship. During a live recording, Martin explained that being a history maker is not about being ‘up here’ (on the stage), it’s about what’s ‘in here’ (in our hearts).