Bigger Than Me
Don’t go searching through your stack of choir anthems to try to find one entitled Bigger Than Me. Since the publication deadline is looming and the anthem for Sunday is yet to be selected, I’m writing out of the box a bit, reflecting on some conversations I’ve had with people as I am on the verge of moving away, which have inspired me to reminisce and worship.
As they have bid me farewell, people have been very kind and have often expressed thoughts like, “What are we going to do without you?” or, “How will we ever replace you?” A couple of people have said something to the effect, “I’d love to help, but I can’t do all that you do.” While I greatly appreciate hearing that I am valued by the people with whom I’ve served, my own thoughts on the subject are a little different. I look at the long history of this church, how we are celebrating our 125th anniversary year, and remember that it all is so much bigger than me.
Thousands of people have come and gone at this church. Some have spent nearly their whole lives serving here. I think of Maryann Mavis, who taught Sunday School for more than 60 years, and Ben Martin who actively served well into his 80s. There have been pastors preaching the word with power, and elders leading the congregation with humility and integrity, people serving faithfully in the nursery, ladies like Joan Beason who work behind the scenes to serve meals at funerals and ensure that the Angel Tree gifts get to the less fortunate. There are people still in our congregation who put sweat equity into the building of the older part of our current facility, putting it together with their own hands. So many individuals, who for more than a hundred years, have faithfully exercised the gifts God has given them for His glory.
Before I started doing props and sets there was a man named Wendell Thiele who built them. Wendell was a builder by trade, and the sets he put together were meant to survive to the Second Coming. When I followed him, I felt that I paled in comparison, because my forte is smoke and mirrors, not sturdy construction, but even that difference has served its purpose with its flexibility and creativity. This is why when someone says, “But I’m not Sheri,” it’s OK, because I’m not Wendell. Whomever God calls, He equips with what it is He wants to accomplish. The best ability to have with God is availability. That is true for any form of service. He takes our loaves and fishes and creates something that is bigger than us, just so we can know that it’s not our work but His! It causes us to be in awe of Him, and in awe that He’s willing to include us in His grand scheme. It brings us to worship.
God surrounded me with so many people to help make the vision work—people who could take my Tinker Toy models and make sure angels didn’t drop out of the ceiling unintentionally(thank you Dan Shank and Steve Gauger), and people, like Steve as well as Dick Hoppe, who made stars rotate in the rafters, and a score of ladies to sew costumes, and people, including children, to paint sets, and patient people like Debbie Henshaw and Cindy Bates, who helped me stitch camels and tombs…And SO much more! Small groups got together to serve during our events, greeters, communion servers, furniture movers, take down crews…Willing hands and hearts, all coming together to glorify God in ways that a single person alone could never accomplish. It’s so much bigger than any one of us—the Spirit of God, inhabiting the Body/Bride to shine His glory to others.
That’s what I LOVED about how I was enabled to serve. God would give Pastor Doug these greater-than-one-person visions for Christmas, Good Friday, or stage art. Then he’d unleash his creative team on the project to flesh it out. There’s not a bigger adrenaline rush than the visions that come out of a team of creative people, especially one that includes the likes of Liz Dye, whose motion-picture imagination generates grand designs to take things to the next level. There were times when the vision for an event could be overwhelming, but for me that was the glory of them! They were bigger than me! I couldn’t accomplish them on my own. Unless God supernaturally enabled with ideas, knowledge of things where I had no training, stamina that defied explanation, people to come alongside with their gifts there would have been no success.
There is nothing quite so thrilling (or terrifying) as taking on a task that, if God doesn’t come through with power, the wheels are guaranteed to come off. And I have had a front seat to God’s amazing provision time and time again, proving repeatedly this is bigger than me, but not bigger than Him. Even the memories of these things cause me to worship Him for His mercy, faithfulness, enabling, and provision to get things done.
There is no worship like that which comes from the heart of one confronted by their smallness and God’s bigness. It doesn’t destroy the “self-worth” to see our smallness, in fact it’s a thrill to think that God would use us to accomplish His greater purpose.
So I move on from here, wistful for what I’m leaving behind, still pushing toward goals that the next person(s) will fulfill, and confident that God will continue to accomplish even greater things in this church, because His purposes are bigger than me—and bigger than everyone who comes behind me to take up service for Him and through Him.
Let me encourage you not to be afraid to take on those bigger-than-me challenges for God. He is in them. He shows Himself in amazing worship-inspiring ways when we are available to Him for such endeavors. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of His glory!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries