This is another excerpt from my hopefully-soon-to-be-released book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes. The book is about the lessons I learned as an Assemblies of God minister living as a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This excerpt is from my chapter, When God Alone is Enough (Isolation).
Many times throughout the year, men and women would spend a week at the community to see if the monastic lifestyle was something they felt called to embrace. One time a young man came to the community who played the guitar. That wasn’t unusual. We had many guitar players visit the community, often because they were attracted to John Michael‘s music. What was unusual was what John said about this young man. John and I were discussing the possibility that he might join the community, and John observed, “He is one of the best guitar players I’ve seen, but I cannot tell him that.” Some egos are better left unwatered until the proper time.
Later that week this man and I had a conversation. He was going on and on about how he wanted to use his guitar playing as a ministry, and I remembered what John had said about his talent.
“How do you feel about playing just for God?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” he said.
“Are you content to just sit in a room and play for God with nobody else listening?” I said.
“But I want to play for people,” he said.
“Until God alone is a big enough audience,” I said, “then you aren’t ready to play for people.”
At the time, I didn’t realize how many times that statement would come back and bite me. Even during this current period of isolation, I must continually ask, “Is God alone a big enough audience? If it is just God and me alone in the room, can I still bring pleasure to God without teaching in front of an audience? What if this book never sells? Are my thoughts and processes alone enough to please God? Or, is it only me who needs the applause of men to believe that I’ve done my best for the Kingdom?”
The answers to those questions often make me squirm, but I take comfort by contemplating the lowly Loriciferans. Discovered in 1983, scientists think these tiny marine animals live in the mud between grains of sand, feeding on other microscopic animals. Since they are only about one-quarter of a millimeter in size, it is no wonder they’ve stayed hidden for so long. Since an inch is approximately 25.5 millimeters, you could line one hundred cooperative Loriciferans end to end within the space of an inch. That’s small.
So what am I getting at? On the fifth day of creation, God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life” (Gen. 1:20, New Living Translation). God then surveyed what He created (today we call that an evaluation) and proclaimed it “good,” and that included the elusive Loriciferans. Just because man didn’t discover them until 1983 doesn’t mean their “unknown” existence didn’t bring God pleasure. Likewise, just because my current existence remains largely unknown doesn’t mean I can’t bring pleasure to God. But only if an audience of One is enough for Jim.