Small Platforms

I was standing in the back of my classroom (so I could see the screens) scrolling social media on my muted phone while my students completed a timed activity when I saw the announcement: Rascal Flats planning their farewell tour. What? One of our favorite groups whose music we had traveled by on so many trips was ending their time together. A last tour to say goodbye and thank their legion of fans for their loyalty. I can still remember when Tim showed me the band on his phone covering a Foreplay/Longtime/Free Ride medley. I was sad as I forwarded the news to Tim. As sometimes happens when the end of an era comes, and you are in your late 50 somethings I began to ponder what comes next? What will they do now that they made their wildest dreams come true and they are still young enough to dream another dream or have a second act?

What would that be like to have accomplished every achievement possible and now have enough money to do whatever you want, nothing to prove, leap knowing you had a huge net to catch you if you failed. Jay Demarcus is going home to his Christian roots to start his own Christian record label.

It started that reflective process in me, you know the one about your life and where you are and how do you feel about that and is there time for something more. It took me back to that place of longing, that secret thing you keep hidden and don’t ever talk about because it doesn’t really seem possible anymore. And quite frankly you’re not even sure you’re willing to make the sacrifices for it even if it was. I always wanted to preach/teach to women at a national level. And twice in my life I was in places that might have had enough of a platform that it maybe could happen, but life has its curves and changes eventually I found myself in a place where there was no platform at all. I put that dream away and focused on survival and doing what is at hand. I know all the motivational speakers teach You-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be and it is never too late but that is simply not true some things do have an expiration date. So, I rolled in that space for a bit because once it starts you have to ride the wave of what-ifs and if-onlys until life’s distractions and responsibilities demand you live in the present.  

I was asked by our retiring LEA Union Rep to consider stepping into her shoes next year because I care about teachers and stand with them as a department head. I talked to my principal about the possibility and what did he think? He said, “I was the one who encouraged Martha to ask you.” I thought that was funny and after talking it over with Tim I agreed to serve in that capacity. It is an important and meaningful way to fill that “I want a little something more” it’s not sexy or cool and it isn’t the kind of platform that nets you followers, but it is valuable. I went to my first meeting about contract negations and made my first suggestion to the group that would update their process, they followed my suggestion and the outcome was impactful. That was satisfying and I was content to have made a difference.

I was in the middle of prepping my sermon for our church, we are in a series on Ordinary People Extra Ordinary God and I was assigned Abigail whose interaction with David during a pivotal moment his life is one of my favorite stories and the current relevancy of it makes it always fun to teach. It is a smaller platform but a very satisfying one to teach to the whole body (men and women) on a Sunday morning a handful of times a year on a preaching team with my husband. Our church is about 250 people and it is a lovely place to share my experience and insight from a biblical standpoint with them. When the media team posts the sermon on the church website, my Son reposts it on mine as a podcast. And sometimes I post a link on social media…sometimes I forget. On a small platform that is more than enough until the if-onlys and what-might-have-been thoughts wake you in the dark part of the night. It’s easy to dismiss small platforms, to compare the few responses to what you have shared with the world to the “Viral” responses of others or the influencers who have astronomical numbers of followers. Or to wonder if your limited efforts are even worth the time to share it at all.

And then God steps in and shows you that there are no small platforms in His design that He uses all of our efforts, all of our gifts to make changes and add to the lives of others. Because as only God can do, He takes the smallest offering and does the mightiest of things. The most extraordinary things. As I stepped off the stage after speaking on Abagail a member of the body was waiting to talk to me. His words were simple “That was for me today, I am in a situation so similar and I got the exact direction I needed, thank-you.” Not a small thing to this life.

The next Saturday as I sat drinking my coffee and watching the grand girls play on my living room floor I got a messenger notification from someone who had friended me which I had accepted the night before even though I didn’t recognized the name. Sometimes people read something I wrote or listen to a podcast and then friend me, so I accepted. I opened the note and read that the woman who contacted me was in our first youth group in the 80’s in a small foursquare church in Concord CA, she shared a story of how we had impacted her life then and that now she was a pastor’s wife in a church in FL. She went on to explain she had been studying to speak at a Mother/Daughter Brunch and looking for resources online found my sermon on “The Guardrail of Gratitude” and had used some of the concepts for her presentation and then finally made the connection that I was the same Kim Clements from Concord. She shared the connection with the ladies that morning and thanked me for our impact in her life. I was flabbergasted at how she had even found that sermon. How is that even possible? Surprised once again how small the world really can be.  I looked up their church and it looks like it is a thriving growing body. I still have the message on my phone because I am still processing the wonder of it.

The very next Sunday I was sitting in my normal pew waiting for church to start when my pastor stopped to share something with me. He gave me very little detail wanting to respect the privacy of the parishioners who had shared their story with him but wanted me to know that there had been in the morning services on the day I taught about Abigail parishioners that were facing weighty choices that could result in serious repercussions and when the service was finished they decided to seek help instead of continuing on their current path. What was even more impactful was he cited a particular section of the sermon that had caught their attention, I was astonished by that revelation because that particular section had started rolling around in my heart on the Friday before so I got up on Saturday and reedited what I had prepared. It was a part of the final edit and I was second guessing it even as I walked onto the platform on Sunday morning but taught it anyway.  I was weak in the knees just thinking about what if I had missed it? Not responded to that nudge and change of focus.

There are no small platforms with God, only man. Scripture reminds us over and over that He cares for the one. He comes for the one. To partner with God for the one is the biggest platform of all and perhaps the only platform that matters.