a greater thing…

I’ve been stuck recently. Hung up on and hunkered down in a thought or two regarding a particular spoken word from Jesus. A promise. One that doesn’t compute with my internal, spiritual compass. One that has always confused me, challenged me, asked me to consider just exactly what he meant by his saying it. Perhaps it’s brought you reason for pause in your personal, exploration with God.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” 
{John 14:12-13}
Doing what Jesus did. Even greater things. Almost seems treacherous typing it, much less laying claim to it as part of my personal identity. Surely he didn’t mean it as it sounds. Surely he isn’t saying what it seems as if he is saying. That I, that you, sinners saved solely by the grace of the cross, could walk in his similar shoes, dispensing a similar grace on similar occasions with similar results.
Surely not. Such a gift feels too weighty. Too much sacred privilege given to human flesh. Too much trust. Too much kindness. Too much royalty. Too much inheritance.  Too much glory for any one person to handle with any measure of Godly humility. Too big of a theology for a pint-sized brain like mine and an even weaker flesh to absorb in this moment.
I am in a diminished state. My thoughts aren’t always what I want them to be. Medications and course of treatment force my limits. My thinking is sometimes scattered, and I labor to have it make sense. Accordingly, when it comes to the weightiness of the Word of God and all its intricacies—the mystery and marvel of words that breathe as fresh breath from his lips today even as they were spoken in yesterday—I don’t always get it right. I’m no scholar; no theologian deeply steeped in study and adorned with degrees from the most prestigious religious institutions.
  Yes, my daddy is a preacher and served as a professor of preaching at one of the finest seminaries in the country. I spent years running its hallways and sitting under some of the richest preaching and teaching offered to formative young minds. As a youth, I was mentored by one of the most deeply committed, well-known youth leaders in the country who made it his solid commitment to make sure that the pulse of my heart would eventually catch up with my over-grown head. Indeed, I was offered the best when it came to my spiritual shaping. But even with all of that tutelage back then and with all of what I’ve come to know since that season…
I still get stuck sometimes. And I wonder about God and his promises to me and what he means for me to do with such knowledge. How do I take what he says, apply it to my heart, and then live it out most courageously before his watchful gaze in hopes that I do him some justice… bring him some glory? What could I do in this season of my life that would even come close to matching the sentiment of his heart as spoken in John 14? How can I, sick as I am, stand where I am, as a representative of the I AM and do even greater things?
It doesn’t compute, but then again, neither does grace. And just the other morning while others (perhaps even you) were catching sleep granted humans via the natural cycle of life, I was clutching my cross, and I had a thought regarding my “greater thing.” It arrived in the form of few words from God’s Word. Silently, they crept in without notice, transferring me from the dark of my bedroom to the dark of a sea. A night some 2000 years ago, steeped in chaos, waves, and despair. A fourth watch where disciples, not unlike me, took to the waters in hopes of reaching the other side without incident. A night when fear roared its opposition in the face of truth and when faith was shaken to its core. A night when those who were closest to the Master needed the witness of his eternal hold.
A night scare that required a night God and the witness of a night Word that would carry them through to the morning’s light:
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” {Matthew 14:27}    
And with those eight words, I become less stuck in my previous ruminations. For with Christ’s mandate in that moment—an event in history separated from his promise in John 14—I begin in my understanding of what Christ might mean by my “greater thing.” That I, feeble in flesh yet strong in Spirit, might be a someone who could make that night walk on behalf of the fearful. That God in his infinite mercy and willing cooperation might so endow me with the gift of his Spirit so that I could cross waves and cut through currents to become a hand’s extension. Heaven’s extension. A sacred bridge linking the dying, fear-filled soul to the living, faithful God.
That I, a single pilgrim on this journey of faith, might know the power of an interceding Jesus. And that because of his Holy Spirit, I might be filled to overflow with Him so that I would be able to withstand the fear of the night’s storm in order to walk in peaceful pause to extend the courage of Christ to others.  
That, my friends, is a greater thing… a greater work. To be one extension amidst millions of other faith-filled extensions who are well-supplied and well-equipped to dispense the King’s courage. Not because of anything we have done, but rather because of everything he chose to do. He chose to make me and you a part of his rich inheritance. We stand alongside him as co-heirs to an undeserved kingdom. On paper and in our minds, such grace will never compute. We’ll never be able to make sense of the “greater things” he has in mind for us to do. But every now and again, when we really take hold of all of what that might mean for us, we catch a glimpse of perfect understanding.
And we find our place… our sacred responsibility and our reason for moving forward with our faith in this world.
We are here for God’s greater thing. I don’t know what that will look like for you in the week ahead, but I do know where the fearful live in my little corner of the world. They cloister together less than a mile from my front door, in chairs hooked up to the deathblows and life-giving vein named chemotherapy. Many are stuck in the fourth watch. Many have yet to know that God is the Master of their fourth watch. That his courage and his hands are available to them, and that just maybe, those hands might come to them through a weakened vessel named Faith Elaine. Hands wrinkled by years. Hands drying by drugs. Hands weathered by understanding.
Hands extended in love. Hands speaking the truth in love…
“Take courage; It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Words rightly and humbly spoken by a daughter of the King. A greater thing, indeed. What a marvelous, treasured gift with which to be entrusted. Live your greater thing like you mean it, friends, and never underestimate your worthiness in the kingdom of God. He has called us, each one, to a greater understanding of the greater gift we’ve been allowed. Use it all, do it all, love them all with his greater end in mind. As always…
Peace for the journey,
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21 Responses to a greater thing…

  1. Wow! So many thoughts going on in my head. So many thoughts. And the words you are saying trying to connect to something else I've heard today… something my mind can't quite grasp… can't quite remember. Yet I know that they link.

  2. "How can I, sick as I am, stand where I am, as a representative of the I AM and do even greater things?"… this is His time for the 'greater thing' in and through Faith Elaine. It's in 'that place'… (your place for the moment)…that He is doing His greater thing, for you, and for those who share the chairs around you.

    My daily prayers copntinue for you, and for them. You have so much they need if they don't know, and His strength is yours.

    Love you friend!

  3. Live your greater thing…what a challenge…and what an example you live my friend.

    "A night scare that required a night God and the witness of a night Word that would carry them through to the morning’s light."

    A night's blessing to me,

  4. I love his these beautiful and honest thoughts from your heart, precious friend. So much here to ponder upon tonight and in the week to come.

    The way God speaks such life and love through you – in spite of illness, the effects of medication, exhaustion, pain or fear bears witness so powerfully to this very "greater thing" within you.

    I'm seeking like you to live my greater thing like I mean it…to use it all and do it all with His greater end in mind. Thank you for the challenge. May it be so, Lord Jesus.

    Continuing to uphold you in love and prayer…Tracy

  5. "How can I, sick as I am, stand where I am, as a representative of the I AM and do even greater things?"

    My friend, you are and you do in so many ways. Just this morning I was reading a chapter from your book and was so blessed. You represent Him so well!!!

    Love you and continue to pray for you!!

    Believing Him~Pamela

  6. Dear Elaine,
    God has given you such life-affirming words that ignite the faith of your readers!
    Your journey right now, this minute is helping so many others…lives you could not have touched without the reality of the battle you are engaged in. I am praying that HIS SPIRIT will bring healing and much fruit from your obedience and trust.
    And I will take up anew the mission GOD has entrusted to me at the Pregnancy Center, though my body is tired and my spirit wanes…HE is able!
    Love in the Lamb.

  7. Painful as it may be, your present circumstance is being used by God to bring you into your season of "greater things." The cancer is definitely not from Him, but it is one of those things that fall under the category "in ALL things God works together for good to those that love Him and are THE CALLED according to His purpose…"

    That "in ALL things" Romans passage, hand in hand with the "greater things passage you wrote about – this is what Satan did not bargain for. It takes him by surprise.

    And I agree with you, we are in the season of these "greater things". It boggles my mind as well, it doesn't add up. I, in my meager mustard seed faith, certainly do not deserve this honor, this glory…

    But God knows each one of us by heart. He believes in you. He believes in me.

    I am learning so much from you, dear Faith Elaine. Like you, may I grab the moment. Like you, may I not miss the hour of my visitation.

    Keeping you close,

  8. Wonderful insights, Elaine. Holding out hope and courage to those who don't know Jesus yet or to those who need an extra measure of His strength is definitely a greater thing. How blessed we are when He uses us in such a way! May He continue to strengthen and bless you this week!

  9. I cry every time I read one of your posts. You know where I am in my walk even though you are walking your own path now. I have been waking every night and lay there thinking how my husband and I will make it. I am afraid of the bills, the no jobs, the future and then I pray and pray hoping for relief. I will remember this verse for the next dark hours.
    LOL We need to call each other at about 3 am! I'll be praying for you then!

  10. Your vision of the dark sea and the disciples hoping to make it to the other side without incident SO speaks to me right now Elaine. Isn't that the way we are so often in our desire for ease in this life. While I'm not dealing with cancer right now, I am in my 60's and there is no sign of relief or ease in sight with some family situations I am navigating through. To be caught between very real needs of children/grandchildren and aging parents is not what I had imagined for this stage of my life. Yet I know what I am doing is part of the stuff that makes up "the greater things" — greater because it is a sweet surrender to "not my will, but thine be done". I would venture to say that many of your readers would so desire the special intimacy that you are finding with Jesus right now but have no clue that suffering with Him is the only way to find it. His light shining through your story may be the only way they will see it. Joshua 1:9: "Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Sending love your way…and praying always.

  11. Thank you. I am so grateful for the world of internet so I don't miss the love, faith, wisdom and courage that flows from your words to me each time I come to this screen to read. My JESUS love to you and holy hugs!!!

  12. What a wonderful challenge for us all! We, as Christians, are the body of Christ. Can you imagine the greater good that would be accomplished if each one of us focused on doing greater things for His glory?

    Awesome post, sweet friend. Love you…

  13. I love your transparency. What a blessing to know that I'm not the only one who weighs heavy on this. Thank YOU Lord for using Elaine. In Jesus' name, amen.

  14. I did not know of this journey you were on….this place He has allowed.
    I thank God for you and your willingness to stand and be used as His instrument of glory during this time. It is such a place of honor…our brother Paul understood this too.
    Know that there is now one more sister praying. Praying that you will know that Christ in you the hope of glory is ever near. And that where you walk…..His glory is shinning through. Oh how the enemy will run and be forced back as you let Him walk through you.
    Walking with you in the Spirit.

  15. Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid"
    I needed to hear this. Fear and I have done much battle lately.
    This post was beautiful, I am so blessed to have someone like you walking the same cancer journey. Your words bring me back to Jesus. Thank you.

  16. I'm so glad that the Word of God is shallow enough for a child to wade into safely, but deep enough for any theologian to swim in.

    Shall we just keep swimming these waters together, even if we seem simple to the theologians??? 🙂

    And thank you, Elaine, for helping me make sense of the Word. God uses you as a life preserver in these waters. He really does.

    (I pray for you every day, my friend.)

  17. Beloved Faith Elaine,

    Just as iron sharpens iron, deep calls to deep. I see in this post evidence of the promise we are being changed from glory to glory, the promise that our trials can strengthen us while bringing hope to dark places, places of the 4th watch. This may be my most treasured of all your excellent posts. Bringing God's Shalom to a chemo clinic – something only the power of God's Spirit can accomplish in us…if we are willing. You are deeply loved.


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