This last year has been a challenge for anyone working the world of communications.
Not exactly “news” is it?
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those trips down memory lane where I remind you of what you already know quite well. Over the last year or so, churches of all sizes have found themselves in the midst of a turbulent storm, trying to navigate waters boiling with conflict, hurt, injustices, fears, and not a small amount of confusion.
And those of you entrusted with helping communicate how your church is proceeding through those waters have been through more than a few stressful times. In fact, I can imagine it’s been exhausting. You’re feeling the weight of saying the right thing, doing the right thing, hitting a deadline, listening to the various parts of your staff and volunteers telling you that their idea is the one that needs to be highlighted this week…
Have you ever noticed how susceptible we are to the lies of the enemy in our weariness?
For me it often comes in the form of a whisper that gives way to a dark and defeating thought: “No one is noticing how hard I’m trying to get this right.” And from there, I’m only a couple sentences away from, “can one person even make a difference in the face of all that is happening around us?”
Or maybe it sounds like this: “Does the faithful life of one person really matter?”
Of course, it does.
You already know this—just like you “know” your multiplication tables. Or you know what John 3:16 says. But do you know-that-you-know this in the deepest parts of you? Each of us, at certain times, grows susceptible to the nagging nibbles of self-doubt on their way to a self-destructive thought: “What I do isn’t going to make that big a difference in the big scheme of things.”
I couldn’t disagree with you more.
A hall of fame denotes a hallowed place where people who are extremely good at what they do are recognized by their peers. It’s a big deal to be inducted into say, the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Being a part of any hall of fame implies significance, a lasting memory of one’s contributions. This life, this career, will not be soon forgotten.
Some people refer to Hebrews 11 as a hall of fame or, as we preachers like to put it, “the Hall of Faith” (see what I did there?). The writer lists several of the great heroes from the Old Testament. Noah, Sarah, Isaac, Rahab…these men and women trusted God at strategic junctures in history and He changed the world through their obedience.
Keep reading this extraordinary chapter, and you’ll sense the writer running out of room on the page and time on the clock: “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson…” (Hebrews 11:32)
And then eventually this: “there were others” (Hebrews 11:35). Others? That’s all we get? Who were they? Some I’m sure we could name. But not all. While the big names were making big splashes, there were others quietly doing the right thing. And God did something remarkable with their faith. We don’t have their names yet, but God knows.
While we’ll never know this side of eternity who these unnamed heroes are, the Scriptures are full of the barely-named whose lives altered history.
Just to stir your imagination, there’s Jehosheba, the woman who saved the Messianic line from annihilation. The story reads like something a Hollywood screenwriter would dream up—complicated family trees, shocking betrayals, vengeance, and more than a little violence. (You can read the full story in 2 Kings 9-11). The punchline is that a courageous woman snatched an infant boy, her nephew and the heir to the throne, from those being executed by her own mother. Jehosheba stood up to her power-thirsty family and God used her to save the day.
What about a little-known nephew who saved his uncle Paul – yes, that Paul – from a premature death? Without his nephew’s intervention in Acts 23, the great apostle would not have made it to Rome. The gospel would not have worked its way through Caesar’s palace guard. The letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon? They were all written from Rome, a place Paul never would’ve visited without his nephew’s actions.
These are just two stories of people that started a chain reaction.
Scientists in the twentieth century found that if you bombard the nucleus of certain uranium atom with a neutron, it will split into two or more parts, releasing massive amounts of energy in the process. This also spits out more neutrons that hit and then split other nuclei, and the process of splitting and spitting happens again and again (and again). This is what scientists call a chain reaction that releases more power and energy than you can imagine. And that’s the point: One little particle strategically aimed has that big an effect.
Think of what happens if one person—in the right place at the right time— does the right thing. They may not be famous or in a position of power. But that which is released by one faithful act dwarfs anything a physics professor can describe.
It’s true that some chain reactions take longer than we want. Even in the stories just mentioned, it often took years for those involved to see how God was working through their faithfulness. And in none of those stories did they fully grasp how far the effect of that one step would reach.
Please don’t forget how God will use your faithfulness and your gifts to ripple through lives that then affect other lives. Its effect will echo long after we’re all gone. As Paul so memorably puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “your work in the Lord is not in vain.”
In case you haven’t heard it said today, thank you. Thank you for doing so much work behind the scenes. Thank you for sweating the details, for crafting sentences, editing videos, updating websites, designing branding, and proofing announcements before they go out to the rest of the church. Thank you for hosting podcasts and creating new ways for us to stay connected through social media in these strange and tumultuous times. Thank you for the way you serve and champion other ministries. Thank you for starting chain reactions of hope.
I promise, it really is making a difference in the Kingdom. How could it not? YOU are made in the image of the Most High God, redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit who courses through your life right now. That means each faithful step you take matters to God and to His Kingdom.
So, don’t stop now. We need you. Your team needs you. So too does the rest of your staff and church community. Never settle for anything less than God’s best, you sons and daughters of the King.
In the coming days may you behold the power of God in a thousand times a thousand chain reactions rippling through eternity for His glory.