Being a Nobody: God’s Love Letters #7   5 comments

Matthew 1:3 Perez fathered Hezron and Hezron fathered Ram.

Hezron and Ram have no stories, no histories, no parts to play.  They are nobodies, appearing in the Old Testament simply as names in lists of genealogies.  The vast majority of Israelites who lived then are not mentioned at all.  They plowed and played; they held one another as their crops failed and laughed with delight at their grandchild’s  first words; many worshipped God faithfully and walked with him daily but are completely unknown to us, very much like Hezron and Ram.

Since the Jewish Bible is primarily about the nation of Israel, the leaders of the nation and events that directed its course are inevitably featured.  Still, it seems that God considers the “movers and shakers” as the important ones, the ones to write home about, the role-models to recommend.  Compare how much we know of David in contrast to his brother Eliab, the firstborn.  If you want to be on God’s A-list, you have to make a big impact in the world, make a name for yourself in his kingdom.  And to do that, all you need is faith.

This view of the Bible seems oddly familiar to me.  When I was growing up, the heroes were folks like Lincoln, rising from an obscure log cabin to the White House, or like Einstein, stepping out from behind a clerk’s desk to become the foremost scientist of his time.  I grew up believing that I could be anything I wanted if I had enough self-confidence and commitment to the vision.  This is the American dream, and ours is the land of opportunity where the only limitations are our faith and determination.  This take on life provides a value system, a goal, and a means to that end, and without realizing it, I bring all of this to my reading of Scripture.

I measure the strength of my faith by the greatness of my deeds—am I like David?  The completeness of my commitment will make me a Daniel.  The weight of my godliness will get my name written down next to Job’s.  I can be one of God’s role-models for my generation.  If I simply make myself wholly available to God, he will make something great of me.  But what if I give it everything I’ve got and never make it out of the log cabin or clerk’s office?  Do I lack faith, is my commitment faulty, am I unusable?  Does God find me of little value?

Perhaps something is wrong with my perspective of what God wants, what is important, and what I should value and aim for in life.  I don’t think God was less pleased with the unnamed in Israel who sincerely followed him.  But this culture runs in my blood—I invariably measure the value of my contribution, for instance, by how many folks read and find benefit from my blog.  The engine is not more valuable than the engine mount bolt… without the bolt, the engine will fall off and the airplane crash.  Every role in God’s kingdom is vital, irreplaceable.  If that’s my theology, why do I so often feel like a loser?

It seems a still deeper issue clouds my view of what really matters to God.  Does he care more about what I do or who I am?  Why do I find myself so obsessed with doing rather than becoming or relating?  Why does accomplishment determine my value–“I may be only a bolt, but I’ll be the best bolt ever made”?  How drastically would my outlook and life change if my focus were rather on who I am and how I relate to others?  How would it impact my understanding and application of Scripture?  If it is David’s faith rather than his triumphs, skills, and leadership that is to inspire us, what would that faith look like in the life of a farmer, a seamstress, or a store clerk, in Hezron and Ram and me?  Rabbi Zusya said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me, ‘Why were you not more like Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”  Considering how God filled the earth with “nobodies” instead of “somebodies,” he must value us a lot!  Or to put it differently, everyone is a very big “somebody” to someone else, even if that someone else is only God.  Did I say, “only God”?!


Posted July 8, 2012 by janathangrace in Bible Grace, Personal

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5 responses to “Being a Nobody: God’s Love Letters #7

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  1. Thanks for this honest post! I agree with you that this belief that God wants us to do something great/ make something or ourselves/ follow our own dreams or destiny (of course the ones that involves greatness and the Lord’s leading) has crept into our “biblical worldview”, but I think you are right- this is the American dream tainting what God really wants- namely to make us like Jesus. Jesus said, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Laying down our lives/dreams day after day is not very glamorous or fulfilling. In my experience it’s mostly lots of diapers, dirt, and dishes which all tend to be depressing. Every day I need to make the choice to find fulfillment not from what I do but from who He is to me- my Savior, Keeper, and the One who I trust is leading me and making something for His glory from my life even though I can’t see it.

    • Perhaps nothing is so mundane and miraculous, so miserable and delightful as parenting (though I have no personal experience). May you find comfort, hope, and a sense of full acceptance in your present place in life.

  2. Like – BK

  3. Just read several posts as I was intrigued to find out more of what you have experienced and what you believe. An observation that you may hear and reject or hear and it strike a cord, but in the end, it may only be worth what you paid for it … nothing.

    You seem to say “I” and “Me” a lot. Again, I hate to make any judgement on such a small sample of your experiences, but did you replace a preoccupation with you and your accomplishments (even if they were “for” God) and a focus on you and your need to not achieve and just be. Either way, from a distance, it seems to be a lot about you. Sorry if this sounds harsh as I just mean to ask the question based on a observation. Perhaps I see this in you because I am leaning and seeing it so much more in myself lately and always bring things back around to me instead of how circumstances can be seen in light of Jesus.

    Just thinking out loud … well, not really, just thinking on electronic paper. 🙂

    • Randy, as the title of my blog says, “This is my journey of self discovery shared with you.” It is my autobiography, so I think it would be odd if the first person pronoun did not predominate.

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