The Bible tells of a time Jesus went back to His hometown. I think it’s one of the saddest stories in the Bible, pretty much summed up in the final verse of the chapter: “He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”1
These people knew Jesus. They had watched Him grow up, and I guess they didn’t expect much from Him. So when He came around after He’d been doing miracles, they just couldn’t believe it. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”2 they asked. It seems to me they were saying, “We know this guy. He’s just a carpenter—it’s not possible that He could be doing something great. It’s not like He’s the son of God or anything.”
One of my cherished childhood memories is of my older sister reading my favorite Bible story—the Good Samaritan1—to me from a picture Bible. I’ve never forgotten that “my neighbor” is not only the person who lives next door but also anyone whose path crosses mine.
Yet it was many years before I began to fully grasp what Jesus meant when He said to “love your neighbor as yourself.”2 I focused so much on the first part of the sentence that I sometimes forgot it had a second part at all.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt strongly that I needed a purpose, a “mission,” a life plan. It’s both part of my natural personality type and how I was brought up to understand that God worked—that He had a calling, a “special place in His kingdom” for each of us. I still believe that … but differently.
It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability, that counts.
—Corrie ten Boom (1892–1983)
Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music in them.
—Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
There are times in life when we each feel like an anonymous unknown. It’s a discouraging realization. You’re a statistic—a woman or a man, over forty or under forty, single or married, able-bodied or disabled. Every so often, you put your vote in the ballot box and wonder if it makes a difference. If you didn’t show up to work today, you wonder if anyone (apart from the payroll department) would even notice. Not many achieve the type of fame that would make us stand out in the mass of humanity. And even if we do, fame is lean comfort in difficult times, and usually transitory.
For some time, we’ve been putting on benefit shows in our beautiful city of Granada, Spain. On a particular occasion, we performed at a residence for senior citizens. After the usual dances, songs, and puppet show, I decided to end with an illustration about value. This is how it went:
“Supposing that I offered to give this away,” I asked the audience, showing them a €20 banknote, “who would want it?”
How easy it is to listen to the advice of others and change ourselves into something we are not. To quit being our unique and wonderfully made selves. To base our worth on what others think instead of what God thinks.
An elderly family member came for a visit. “A lady does not laugh with her mouth wide open, head thrown back, submitting all viewers to the spectacle of her tonsils,” she advised.