Saturday, March 30, 2019

Just Right

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters 2011

We all derive a certain feeling of satisfaction from being in the “Goldilocks zone,” where everything feels “just right.” Like the little girl in the fairy tale, we don’t want to sit in a chair that is too big, or one that is too small, but in one that is “just right.”

My husband and I recently witnessed a maritime version of this tale while we were at the beach. It was a perfect day, with sun shimmering on the calm azure waves, and wispy clouds floating lazily through the robin’s egg blue sky. Amidst all this tranquility was a hotspot of vibrant activity, where large silver fish were jumping from and diving into a frothy patch of surf, attracting the attention of a flock of terns.

We could almost palpably sense the frustration of these birds as they hovered over this appetizing meal, because despite the inviting aroma and gleaming silver scales of the fish, they were simply too big for the terns to catch!

From our earlier walk on the shore, we knew that a section of sand we refer to as “Coquina Beach” was teeming with jewel-toned, tiny coquina mollusks burrowing beneath the sand and resurfacing as the waves lapped the shore. These would have been a hearty feast for sandpipers, but for the terns, sadly, they were just too small.

Standing alone, apart from all the commotion, was a single tern who had found his Goldilocks zone! We had seen him dive close to the shore, where he snatched up a baby mullet, about 6 inches long, and was savoring it in his beak as he prepared to eat it. Happily, he had found the provisions that were, for him, “just right.”

It made me wonder about how we can find the Goldilocks zone in areas of church service and ministry. Many new Christians, who have saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), are initially on fire with their zeal to serve the Lord (2 Kings 10:16).

They envision some grand ministry opportunity, like becoming the preacher of a large church, or traveling abroad to plant a church in some remote foreign village, only to be disappointed when the Lord does not immediately grant their desire. At this early stage of their Christian walk, such a ministry opportunity would be “too big,” causing them to bite off more than they can chew. 

Baby Christians who have just been born again (John 3:3-8) need to be fed with the sincere milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2), rather than attempting to digest the strong meat (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). They forget that we need to wait upon the Lord (Psalm 27:14; 37:7-9,34; Isaiah 40:31) and His perfect timing (Luke 12:42-48), and that He wants us to be faithful in the small things before He entrusts the larger things to our care (Matthew 25:21).

At the other extreme who is the Christian who has been saved for decades, yet is content with service that is “too small” or even nonexistent.  Such a Christian may be content to occupy the pew on Sunday morning, but never to come to other services or even to open their Bible on their own.

We wouldn’t dream of restricting our weekly eating to a single repast, no matter how fine, on Sunday morning, but instead look forward to three square meals every day, and perhaps some snacking in between! Yet these Christians who settle for “too small” are content to be spoon fed by their pastor once a week, never seeking spiritual nourishment and daily bread (Luke 11:3) from God’s Word themselves (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).

These Christians tend to have the same attitude about serving the Lord, not seeing the value in answering God’s call (Isaiah 6:8) for even the simplest requests. They shy away from menial tasks that they consider to be beneath their dignity, or from encouraging others who are beneath their station in life (James 2:1-9), or even from giving, perhaps grudgingly doling out some loose change for the collection plate (Luke 11:42) while neglecting tithing and love offerings (Malachi 3:8-14). They forget that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48), and that God is the source of all good gifts (James 1:17).

Their attitude toward God is that He is too small, as if He alone were not worthy of all our love, devotion, and service (Revelation 5:9). They forget that He alone owns the cattle on a thousand hills; that He needs nothing from us (Psalm 50:10-15) yet delights in blessing our faithfulness (Proverbs 28:20); and that we can’t outgive Him (Matthew 7:11; Luke 6:38; Malachi 3:10). He is Almighty, all-powerful God (Psalm 147:5). Truly He deserves the best offerings of our time, talent and treasure.

Thankfully, there are Christians whose service for the Lord is “just right,” not in the sense of being self-righteous, but of being willing to listen to and follow His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12) wherever it may lead (Isaiah 6:8).

Sometimes this may mean leaving the ministry opportunity that is “too big,” appearing to be fruitful and satisfying our pride, yet robbing us of the opportunity to grow in humility and total surrender to Him. We may enjoy being “first,” forgetting the paradox of Christian life that he who is last will be first (Matthew 19:30)

Sometimes finding the service opportunity that is “just right” means moving on from one that is “too little,” stepping out of our comfort zone and relying on Him, instead of on our own flesh (John 15:5; Psalm 52), to supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Meanwhile, God will shape and mold us into His image (Philippians 3:10) by applying the pressure that is “just right.” He will not test us beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13) by forcing us to endure a trial that is “too large.” When we are disobedient, He will not let us get by with a knowing wink (Acts 17:30) or slap on the wrist, for that would be “too little” for a loving parent. Instead, He will chastise us as sons and daughters, justly delivering consequences that are “just right” for our sin (Hebrews 12:6-11).

May He guide us in our Christian walk to serving Him in ways that are “just right” for His purpose that He has intended for each of us (Ephesians 2:10) since before the beginning of time!  May we then hear Him say (Matthew 25:21):

Well done, thou good and faithful servant:  thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  

© 2019 Laurie Collett



Tanza Erlambang said...

Thank you to share your inspiring story.
I love the quote from "Revelation 5:9."
Have a wonderful day

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Tanza! He alone is worthy and can redeem people of all nations! Thank you for your comment, have a wonderful weekend, and God bless!

Susan said...

Hi Laurie, another beautiful post! Wherever the Lord places us is the “goldilocks zone” because being in the center of His will is perfect.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Your illustration of the tern feasting on a baby mullet rather than the larger silver fish or the smaller mollusk is another good example of the natural world, about which TV documentaries I enjoy watching are frequently made.
Although the mullet being "a baby" might have struck a chord in my heart, like a newborn puppy or kitten, I always felt an inclination that they should have a right to the chance of life. Like a time I watched on television a snake being fed with a newborn mouse in the laboratory. Not only was the mouse still without fir and its eyes still closed, the fact that it was squirming had saddened my heart as I watched the snake swallow it.
Perhaps I'm being sentimental or just silly. After all, as a human, I am against elective abortion for the same reason! But this natural act of the tern with its baby mullet for food is the real world, a magnificent creation which has been spoiled by the entry of sin, and as a consequence, cursed.
The glorious truth is that after Jesus returns to reign in Jerusalem, all predation will end, according to Isaiah 11:6-9 and 66:17-25, as the curse on all Creation, already nailed on the Cross, will be finally lifted.
In the meantime, the Lord promises fountains of living waters for everyone who believes. Perhaps another example of the Goldilocks zone, a drink of water to satisfy thirst is much more effective than attempting to inhale steam or attempting to swallow ice.
In addition, I once heard a saying:-
"The Spirit without the Word (Bible) and you bloat up.
The Word without the Spirit and you dry up.
But the Word and the Spirit and you grow up."
A great post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Susan! May we always be in the center of His perfect will -- this is my daily prayer.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Very true, that the curse of sin upon the earth as well as upon mankind turned animals into predators. Praise the Lord that in the Millennial Kingdom, all will be at peace, and all animals will once again be herbivores as they were in the Garden of Eden.

Sadly, in today's society, the unsaved shed many tears and rush to protect an endangered bird's egg, while caring nothing for a human embryo who is a living soul made in God's image.

I love your analogy of the living water and also your pithy but very deep and true saying!

Thanks as always and God bless!

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post, Laurie.

Because they are so on fire, church leaders often encourage new christians to take on ministries that are too big for them. As a result they don't get the basic teaching they need and thus fail to accomplish what they or others expected. Having failed once, they are afraid to try anything they aren't sure they can do and get stuck just doing the minimum. Because they have not developed a solid spiritual base, many turn completely away from the church. If we start them at the top, the only way they can go is down.

Laurie Collett said...

Great point, Donald! Pastors need discernment to be able to assess the spiritual readiness and gifts of their members before assigning them a ministry that will only lead to disappointment, failure, or even turning away from God. Thanks as always for sharing your insights, and God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
I believe the problem may be that being a true believer, being part of the true church (the body of Christ on earth) may not be what some of what we think are 'Christians' are. It depends on whether they have been taught by traditions of man or the Word of God.
It is the Holy Spirit that Jesus said would lead us into all truth and, as you have said in your post, we have to be first fed by the 'milk' of the Word and then the 'strong meat'. A person can not be what they want to be 'in the Lord' it is for God to give the gifts of the Spirit to whoever He chooses, and unfortunately many of those gifts do not operate within the church because the Holy Spirit is quenched.
God bless you Laurie for sharing.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
You're right; I believe that many nominal "Christians" are not truly saved, and there will be many surprises at the Rapture, when these are left behind, yet many backslidden, born-again Christians who turned away from church or service will enter Heaven because they trusted Christ as their Savior. May we be Spirit-filled not only to be saved, but to follow Him closely through our Christian walk and lead others to Him.
Thanks for your comment and God bless,

Tanza Erlambang said...

yes, indeed