"Go big or go home."
That's what they told us. All through elementary, junior high, and high school, that was the catchphrase. That's what pumped us up. What set our sights on the future of endless, exciting possibility.
It's the mandate that nestled itself in my mind, and wouldn't leave. "Go big or go home."
And so some of us discarded the concept of normality. Some of us began to resent anything mundane, common, or expected. I began to distance myself from any thought of an "ordinary" life, because that's what we'd been encouraged to do. To either go BIG... or just go home.
Is that it? Is that really all there is to it?
Is one truly better than the other? Come to think of it, what, even, is "big"? One person's "big" may be another person's "small." Here I am at university in a brand new place. That's a big deal. But just ask the 20-something who just got the opportunity to open their own business! Now, that's big. Or what about the high school sweethearts who are soon to be wed? Now, THAT'S big.
If I got another chance to travel, I would be ecstatic. Every time I've gotten the opportunity to travel somewhere, I've just been over the moon. To me, that's BIG. But to the kids who've grown up on the mission field, boarding one more plane for a short journey somewhere may not be that big of a deal. While my heart is racing and my face is beaming every time I board a plane, for someone who's been travelling for their entire life, boarding one more flight is a small ordeal.
Getting an 80% on a quiz will be one person's goal, and another person's flop. Getting a B on a paper is one person's dream, and another person's nightmare. It's all relative. It's all subjective. This idea of 'big' and 'small,' 'significant' and insignificant,' it's all based on perspective. There is no set standard for measuring the greatness of these events in our lives. The highest point in one person's life might be their graduation, while for another, it's marriage, while for another, it's childbirth, while for another, it's arriving at the top of the business hierarchy, while for another, it's producing their first album. There's no science behind it. There's no rationale. There's no way to uniformly judge whether someone has truly, to put it eloquently, "Gone Big."
And while I've been starting to wonder what it really means to "Go Big," it's the 2nd part of the expression that's really been hogging my attention. "Go Home." Since when was going home considered a defeat? Why do we associate going home with loss, shame, and failure? I'll be the first to admit that I've held that opinion for years. This world is constantly promoting the idea that if you don't get to the top; if you don't go the distance; if you don't accomplish something spectacular.... you might as well just "go home," because you're nothing. You're life is small. And being "small," in the eyes of society, is just another way of saying, "Worthless."
And I want to challenge that. I want to challenge it with two coins. I want to challenge it with a widow and her offering. I want to present you with this woman's case, to see if this 21st century phrase has any merit.
Mark 12:41-44 - Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said,
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
I'm trying to picture this scene. A poor widow gives her entire savings account in just two coins. For her, that was big. For the pompous people strutting through the crowd, displaying their money bags and generous offerings, two coins was a joke. It was small. It was nothing. It was pointless.
But in reality, Jesus tells us that the widow put more into the treasure than anybody else. In technical terms, they gave more. In logical terms, they gave more. But the problem is, from the perspective of the wealthy, they gave their money in order to feel good about themselves. It was hardly a sacrifice. For this woman, those two meager coins were it. The last of her funds. And if Jesus sees her offering as worth more than all the gifts of the others... maybe this suggests that there's a little more to this "Go big or go home" thing than what we think.
Maybe it's not a science of the earth, but a science of Heaven. Maybe there's no way for humans to measure our accomplishments, because God's holding the measuring stick. What if it's entirely up to Him? What if it's not about the size of our accomplishment, but the size of our sacrifice? What if it's not about how much we've gained, but how much we've lost for the sake of Christ?
1 Samuel 2:3 - "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed."
Maybe it doesn't matter whether we have millions in the bank, or just enough to live on for the week. Maybe our statuses and reputations are more arbitrary than objective. Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with our circumstances and deeds, but everything to do with the condition of our heart.
Are we willing to lose it all? Are we willing to "Go big" if God calls us to it? Are we willing to "Go home" if it's what He's requiring from us? Maybe He's calling you to preach to isolated mountain villages. Maybe He's calling you to spend more time with your family at home. Maybe He's calling you to get your PhD. Maybe He's calling you to be a stay-at-home parent. Maybe He's calling you to drop everything and move overseas. Maybe He's calling you to forgive your brother. Give up an addiction. Put a $20 in the offering plate. Invest in your kids. Work on your marriage. Be diligent in your studies. Respect your boss. Eat healthier. Write a song.
Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. Little is much when God is in it, and much is little when He isn't. He's calling for us to give Him 100% of our hearts. Not 50%, not 75%, not 99.99%. He wants it ALL, or nothing at all. And the moment that we hand it over to Him, praying that His Will is done and ours is abolished, suddenly, He does big things. It's something I've been trying to pray every day: "Lord, I want to want what you want, but I'm not there yet. Align my will with yours." Everything we do in obedience to Him stores up treasure in Heaven. He is pleased with our work. He doesn't see the size of the accomplishment, He sees the size of our hearts. Our readiness to sacrifice everything. Our willingness to drop everything and obey, no matter what the command is.
He will multiply our obedience for His purpose. And we can trust that if our sacrifices are bringing honour to His name, then we never have to fear pointlessness, meaninglessness, or worthlessness.
So, go big. Or go home. Either way, go with God.