Significance Vs Obedience

I’ve been struggling a great deal since returning from South Africa just one week ago. I’m having trouble readjusting to “normal” — as in my daily routine. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than when I was surrounded by the children of Bethany House — playing, sharing, laughing, snuggling. Just being fully “present” with them felt important to me, like I made a difference in their lives, though even just for such a short time.

Bethany House

Bethany House CourtyardBethany House CourtyardToddler House @ Bethany House

While we were there, we also had an opportunity to serve meals to the homeless at the new Ikusasa Bethany House homeless shelter for boys. Ten boys are now living at the shelter, and over 50 homeless adults come for meals. My contribution: scooping chicken vegetable soup onto a container of pap, a mashed potato looking food. Such a simple act, yet so satisfying.

Bethany House Ikusasa Shelter for Street ChildrenIkusasa Shelter

Serving others puts “self” in perspective. If you’ve ever volunteered to help those less fortunate in disadvantaged areas, you know how humbling the experience can be.

We’re forced to face the contrast between our lives and theirs.

In America, many of us take for granted our giant TV screens, multi-car garages, family cell phone plans. We accumulate the newest, fastest, coolest fad gadgets, and when something breaks, we see it as a welcome excuse for the newer version of our toy. We don’t worry about where the next meal will come from or where we’ll find shelter each night. We’re not faced with decisions that you see described in the Bethany House poster below. Shudder!

Bethany House poster

Returning home to my “normal” existence here feels something like survivor’s guilt. I’m just not sure what to do with myself. Being at work feels like I’m not doing enough to make the world a better place. I don’t know how to put my life in context, now that I’m back.

As I pondered all these things this morning, my eyes fell on a book that Steph sent home with me,I Dared to Call Him Father: The Miraculous Story of a Muslim Woman’s Encounter with God” by Bilquis Sheikh. I picked up the book and read it cover to cover, crying through much of it. Not from sadness but because of how amazing God is! I needed this book on this very day. I feel renewed after reading about the faith of one woman, who yearned to know God and risked her entire existence to follow Him.

In the story, set in the 1960’s in Pakistan, Bilquis Sheikh struggled over her lack of “results.” God taught her to focus on obedience, and leave the results to Him. Yes, I cried at this point in the book too. I realized, yet again, that God placed me exactly where He wants me — to accomplish His purposes, not mine. God didn’t ask me to be “significant,” but rather to be obedient.

Significance is all about me. Obedience is all about God. Huge difference.

Right now, obedience translates for me as being a good civil servant. My NASA salary enables me be a “sender,” allowing others to serve God in the mission field while I stay put here at home.

Over two decades ago, God placed a burden on my Daddy’s heart for Africa. He asked our extended family to refrain from exchanging Christmas gifts and donate the money to charities to help feed the African people. He never got to visit the continent he loved, and yet, look at his legacy: Daddy’s little brother Phil and his granddaughter Steph both serve in Africa. How cool is that? One man’s simple act of obedience reaps rewards even today.

One step of faith at a time.


Filed under Africa, Bethany House Trust, culture, NASA, poverty

8 responses to “Significance Vs Obedience

  1. cnbeck

    Words can’t express how amazing you are. 🙂

  2. beth beck

    Back at ‘cha, o daughter of mine! 🙂

  3. Kevin McMahan

    “Survivor’s guilt” … I haven’t been on an African adventure but sometimes feel the guilt – I should be doing more. Recently the Holy Spirit led me to spend more time studying Noah. I didn’t know why, but I obeyed. And what a reward. Noah preached for 120 years without a single person believing him! He certainly received no encouragement for converts, he did it because God told him to. Hard to give up control, but that’s the command. We obey, He takes care of the results!

    • beth beck

      Can you imagine what Noah’s life was like? Talking about and preparing for a “flood” in a dry and dusty land. Today, we might easily dismiss him as a kook. Yet he persevered through faith. Pretty amazing (yet ordinary) guy who walked in obedience. And I’m SO thankful God didn’t ask me to hang out 40 days in a floating container with the ripe fragrance of animal poop! 😉

  4. Sue Smith

    Dear Beth,
    Thank you for sharing your heart about your recent trip to South Africa. I was so blessed to go to Ethiopia for the first time in August. I can relate to many feelings that you expressed. To become aware of the culture that many people are in is a shock, and, many times, the horrors they face, is so humbling in comparison. What impressed me to the core, in my trip, was the joy that showed on the faces of oppressed, and persecuted believers. That joy is only from Jesus!!
    I love that God works in our faith and obedience. That is what He asks of us. In praying for Him to show me where to serve and for the Holy Spirit to lead me, He has answered more than I ever could have imagined. He always does!! I praise that He works thru small people for His big purposes!! <
    blessings, sue
    ps I loved getting to meet your lovely daughter recently:-)

    • beth beck

      Thanks Sue. I’m too am thankful that God works through ordinary people for His HUGE purposes. And, I’m thankful for both my lovely daughters. I’m truly blessed!!

  5. Allutia Miller

    My childhood resembles the picture of the poster. I understand what you mean by surviver’s guilt. Thanks for your encouraging words. It’s been a joy to know your daughter!

  6. you’re amazing beth. thanks for this fabulous article
    my sister give you two thumbs

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