My not-so-Jabez prayer

Years ago I read the Prayer of Jabez found in 1 Chronicles 4:10: “Oh that you would bless, and enlarge my territory. Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” While a beautiful prayer, sometimes I think that God wants to see that we are handling our current territory before he grants us a larger one.

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones, – Luke 16:10

Some of us have enlarged our territories so much that we are losing ground. What good is it to reach out wide and fall short with those nearest to us? With hundreds of “friends” and too many obligations we find ourselves distracted and diluted in our efforts. Even neglectful. Some of us have created a false sense of community, ignoring more important things and ultimately robbing ourselves of peace and any realistically manageable territory. Some of us need to pull in the reins. To cut off the excess in our lives that is preventing us from focusing on what is most important. Some of us need to delete that number. To un-volunteer. To scale back the activities and obligations. Some of us need to sign off for a while…or forever.

We were made to be in community with one another-not the world. Hundreds of friends are unrealistic. Jesus had a little over 12. And he chose to invest in them and in face-to-face encounters with people who needed him. Why didn’t he just heal people by the masses? Certainly he could have. But he modeled for us authentic community and that the greatest influence is a personal encounter. We are not omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent like God (and social media), so it makes sense when we try to be everywhere all of the time, and try to be everyone to every body- it robs our peace. Busyness blurs our vision for what matters, and passing time becomes wasting it.

A few years ago I met an incredible woman who has dedicated her life to rescuing children from troubled situations and caring for them in her home. She and her family have taken in dozens and dozens of children right in this community! When I first got the chance to meet her and hear their stories through her story I was overwhelmed. “What can I do?”, I asked with tears in my eyes and a newborn in my lap. I’ll never forget her response, “You just be a good momma to those little ones.” Simple, but profound. It reminded me of something another great woman said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”- Mother Theresa.  Start with your family. And then the circle of friends you actually hang out with. Be intentional about investing in these relationships and the ripple effect will be huge.

Of course there many who have been called to world-wide ministry to make an enormous impact in the lives of people across the globe. They are doing a mighty work. But it is also a mighty work to invest in one life. To nurture our marriages and love our children and serve our communities. If every family started small, the impact would be far-reaching. Family is the foundation for world peace.

If God gives me a global platform I will follow Him, but until then I will pray:

Lord please enlarge my territory as long as it is still manageable, but help me to remember how you made a difference in people’s lives….face to face. One by one. Help me to pour all I have into only a few so I am not just giving a piece of myself to many. Starting with my family. And then my friends… and then to the ends of the earth. Amen.