I recently met some new friends....well, they are new to me. They are actually friends of my wife. They are really nice people and I look forward to getting to spend time with them as our friendships develop. When meeting them I received compliments on this blog. The person said that they had read these posts and made a (joking, I'm sure) remark about my internet presence and, in their words, "fame"
I believe that this blog has a grand total of nine followers and that my last post was seen by a grand total of thirty-two people. Did I mention that I have something like thirty-six followers on Twitter? I have never pastored a megachurch, never been asked to chair any important committees or task forces. In short...I'm anything but well known and famous is not a word that I would associate with myself.
And I've become ok with that.
I must confess that this has not always been the case. My childhood was very difficult and it left me with a huge void in terms of self confidence and a sense of my purpose and worth. For many years I longed to know that I was worth something to someone. I tried playing sports, mostly in an effort to gain the approval of my father, but that didn't work. I participated in drama and speech contests with some success but not the recognition that I hungered for. My college career was nothing special and was noted more for my lack of academic achievement than anything else. With the possible exception of the cafeteria food fight...but we don't talk about that.
I struggled into adulthood and marriage feeling lost in a way. I desperately wanted my life to mean something to someone. I believed that God loved me but I wasn't sure why. I was convinced that my wife was going to wake up one day and realize the loser that I was and leave me for someone who would make a difference in the world.
I was anonymous and miserable.
I wish I could tell you that there was a Damascus-road type experience in which God broke through my misery and overwhelmed my disbelief with his love. That's not the case. The truth is that I struggled for many, many years and that I came to spiritual and emotional health through small doses of that still, small voice and the Bible. The Job like patience of my wife was so very vital in all of this. She continued to model for me the love of God...the truth is she still does.
I reached a turning point one day through the actions of one of my kids. One of my sons had inadvertently caused a minor disaster while I was working on our car. It was nothing major but was just one of those "perfect storm" moments. I overreacted and exploded all over him, saying things I didn't mean and should never have said. He ran into the house in tears and stayed there while I laid under the car fuming.
I'm not sure how long I laid there but my fuming turned into self loathing. I was certain that my actions were proof of my absolute worthlessness. But then I heard my son come outside. I came out from under the car and before I could apologize he rushed up to me and threw his arms around me and told me he loved me. I was stunned that his heart would want to be on the same planet as me, much less express his love for me.
God had me right where he wanted me. I was listening to Dr. David Jeremiah the next morning and he read Psalm 27:10 - "My mother and father have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up." A light went on in my head.
I came to realize that God picked me up all those years ago when I accepted Christ as my Savior. He knew what was coming then and He loved me anyway. His plan for my life included all the struggles, all the heartaches. He has been there all the time, wanting and waiting to wrap me in His arms. All those youth leaders, the senior adults, my wife and so many others were the instruments of His grace and love in the long, slow drawing of my burdened heart to Him.
I discovered that I wasn't so anonymous after all. I was the object of the affections of the Creator of the universe. He picked me up all those years ago and had been carrying me.
The truth is that none of us are anonymous. God knows each of us in ways deeper than we can imagine, and He loves us with a love so passionate and fierce that He gave up his son for us.
No one from high school, college, or even seminary may remember me. No one at the headquarters of the SBC may know my name and I may never be remembered as a great pastor...But God knows me, loves me and has prepared a place for me.
If that's anonymity I'm okay with it.