At church a few weeks ago we were asked a question, “What is your greatest accomplishment?” We were supposed to write it down on a piece of paper.
As a writer you would think I would be good at such things, but since I do all my writing in solitude, with as few distractions as possible, I have great trouble coming up with anything to write when in a public setting.
Focus alludes me, and any words that do tumble forth seem woefully inadequate.
As I ponder this question, other people quickly scribble down their answers. Gee this is hard to decide. I have many notable accomplishments, but none seem truly great.
As I try to determine which of my good-but-not-really-great accomplishments rise above the others, I start thinking outside the box. I sometimes do this, often to the dismay of others.
My greatest accomplishment is still to come. That is true; I am optimistic about the future. I have no doubt that God has amazing things in store for me. In complete confidence I know my future will surpass my past. How cool is that? Should I write that down?
If they read our answers will people think I’m snarky or even arrogant? Then I remember the setting. This is church after all. I should think of a spiritual answer.
Then truth hits me. It is clear and pure, without false modesty or feigned piety. I have accomplished nothing; Jesus has done it all. Still I hesitate to write. I try to figure out why they are asking this. While still in the middle of this exercise, I’m trying to anticipate the endgame.
I don’t want to call attention to myself; I don’t function well in the spotlight. Frozen in indecision, my hand won’t move.
Our leader tells us to bring our accomplishments forward. She holds up a trashcan, presumably the only handy receptacle. Others spring forward to offer their greatest accomplishments. I hesitate. I want to participate as instructed, not be the maverick who doesn’t follow instructions.
Reluctantly I circle back to the beginning. What is my best accomplishment to date? Nothing comes to me; my mind goes back to God. He deserves all the credit.
Our leader issues the last call and scans the room. One person scrambles to write down an answer. He dashes to the front and throws his paper in the trash. I sit in rigid stillness and say nothing. The window of opportunity has closed, and I’m okay with that.
Confident that everyone has now participated, she holds up the trashcan. “All of our accomplishments are garbage to God.”
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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