This led me to consider how small a part any individual must have in God's great design, limited as we all are by the apparent accidents of birth, gender, education, talents, opportunities and so on. Recently I played for the funeral of an elderly lady in our village and it struck me how briefly a life of more than threescore-and-ten was summed up, Of course there was a good deal more to this lady than could be mentioned in such a setting, but I did wonder what might be said at my funeral one day. It doesn't do to dwell too much on these things; better by far to get on with the tasks in hand and leave the rest to God. Nevertheless...
No doubt like many other people, when I was younger I had dreams of great achievements. As we get older, mere survival tends to become more of an issue, especially with bits of us packing up or falling off, reminding us that we are mortal and fragile. Circumstances militate against the dreams of youth, and we readjust our expectations. In the words of one of Pen Wilcock's characters, 'You start off set to conquer the world, and by the end you have to be glad if it hasn't conquered you.'
Sometimes this makes me feel quite sad. I tell myself that small but real achievements are better than big empty dreams that come to nothing, and knowing that we can't do as much as we hoped shouldn't be an excuse for laziness or timidity. C.S. Lewis wrote this, or something like it: 'Good and evil increase at compound interest. Little decisions are of infinite importance. The smallest good act today captures a strategic point which could lead to undreamt-of victories.' Certainly Lewis himself is a shining example of how one person can have a huge influence for good. So with Lewis I return to my military metaphor. Perhaps in the clash of battle the ragged urchin's hearty banging of the drum might encourage some flagging hero.
I know I can't do much, but what I can do, in his name and for his glory, God can multiply many-fold beyond what I can presently imagine. It's something to hold on to when those big airy dreams get blown away.
Sue Russell writes as S.L.Russell and has four novels available in the usual places: Leviathan with a Fish-hook, The Monster Behemoth, The Land of Nimrod and A Shed in a Cucumber Field, published by New Generation. The first three are a trilogy, the fourth a stand-alone, and a fifth, An Iron Yoke, in a similar genre - realistic British Christian fiction for adults - will be out in the world very soon.
Sue lives in Kent with her husband, currently one daughter, and Rosie the dog. She is an amateur singer and church organist, and blogs at www.suerussellsblog.blogspot.com