The Glorious Freedom of Mattering… and Not Mattering

Sometimes I feel very, very small.

I feel small when the tasks of the day – even simple tasks – seem to dwarf me when I consider the amount of patience, intelligence, or perseverance they will require. Or when I am able to pry my eyes off myself for a bit and gaze at the world around me only to be confronted with disease. War. Hatred. Slavery. All things that are impossibly big, and all things that make me shrink inside myself even more. Or when I come home and find that my children are growing, and with each day there is a new challenge that I am unequipped to handle. Who am I to guide them through these years? Not small me.

When I feel small, there is the gospel that reminds me that my size and worth is determined by that which was sacrificed for me. And there is no greater sacrifice than that which has been given. Thanks to that sacrifice – His sacrifice – I am not small. I matter. I matter in the kingdom, and I matter in the world. And when you matter these challenges are not to be shrunk away from out of fear but are to be counted with courageous hope.

And oh the glorious freedom of mattering.

But then again, sometimes I feel very, very big.

I feel big when someone notices the hard work or laughs at the witty retort. When the retweets flow like water and the acclaim starts to come. When I look into the eyes of those kids and know that, at least for a while, I am invincible and infallible in their eyes. When there is money in the bank and food on the table and nothing at all seems to be threatening this insulated life we have built for ourselves. Nothing can touch me then. Not big, big me.

When I feel big, there is the gospel that reminds me that I was dead in my sin and transgression, too lost to even know that I was lost. That every supposed righteous thing I might do, say, or think is tainted with my own selfish ambition and vain conceit. That although I might be the instrument that offers the word of peace or comfort to another, I am far from necessary when I consider the hand of the One holding me. That it could just as easily be another who was speaking or writing or talking at a given moment, for God will have His way with or without me.

And then oh, the glorious freedom of not mattering.

Psalm 8 holds this tension well:

Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
You have covered the heavens with your majesty.
From the mouths of infants and nursing babies,
you have established a stronghold
on account of your adversaries
in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I observe your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you set in place,
what is a human being that you remember him,
a son of man that you look after him?
You made him little less than God
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all the sheep and oxen,
as well as the animals in the wild,
the birds of the sky,
and the fish of the sea
that pass through the currents of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!

Here we see the picture of a mighty God, the Creator and Ruler of the heavens and the earth. The One who has planned all things, and frustrates even the most vile acts of evildoers for His glory. The One who moves the heart of any earthly king like a watercourse. The One who does not need little, ole me…

And yet the One who has crowned the likes of us – of little humans – with glory and honor. Made people His image-bearers, the stewards of creation. And ultimately, the bearers of His great gospel in both word and deed. The One who does not need, and yet values, people like us.

That’s where freedom is. That’s where we find it. It’s in a God who is strong, stable, and self-sufficient, and yet the same God who gave His own Son to save our souls.

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