Lately I’ve been experiencing Bilbo Baggins Syndrome.
Before Bilbo turns over the ring to Gandalf, he says to him, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
Although Bilbo was talking about an all-powerful ring that could lead to world domination, he might as well have been talking about social media.
Social media is like the ring of power (minus the invisibility and the possibility of being turned into a ring wraith). It scrapes me too thin. Stretches me unnaturally. Pulls me apart at the seams. It makes me less human, in a sense.
Social media has a way of erasing the natural, creaturely boundaries God has put into place throughout creation. It puts me in too many places at a time.
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Within one minute of entering the swamp of Facebook, I’m hip-deep in problems. The Syrian refugee crisis is reaching critical levels. A crazeball went on a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic. The climate may or may not be getting warmer, depending on which political party you ask. A friend of mine is raising money for a very sick friend of his.
So many problems coming from so many directions.
How to keep up? Feeling…so…stretched.
Must pray for…must fight against…must do more, think more, give more, care more.
It’s like I’m one of those little pads of butter scraped over an entire loaf of bread.
Is this really what God wants for me? I don’t think so.
God created me as a human, with very distinct limitations and boundaries. I am not omnipotent or omnipresent. I’m not even sort-potent or sorta-present. I am in one body which can only be in one place at a time and can only deal with one problem a time.
This body which I inhabit is frail, weak, and pretty laughable. My energy depletes within 8 hours, give or take a few depending on the amount of coffee I’ve consumed. I need exorbitant amounts of sleep. If I don’t eat, I get really cranky and needy.
God has placed me in a very specific place (Tallahassee, FL). Within that place, he has placed me in a very specific neighborhood (Killearn) and a very specific church (Four Oaks Church). Within that church, he’s put me in a specific fellowship group.
Weakness and limitation is part of what it means to be a creature. God never intended me to be all things to all people, or even many things to many people. He dropped me into a specific time, gave me a specific place, and put me with a specific people. My primary ministry and serving happens within those specific circles.
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As Paul said in Acts 17:26, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place…”
Allotted periods. Specific boundaries. This is what it means to be human.
Yes, I’ll pray for the Syrian refugees, and if the opportunity comes, try to serve them as best as I can. Yes, I’ll pray for your friend who is sick.
But I won’t feel guilty for what I can’t do. And I won’t make the assumption that God somehow wants me to be everything for everybody.
Instead, I’ll pray that God empowers me to serve my neighbors, love my friends, and treasure my family.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
I’m a little bit of butter designed to be scraped over a little bit of bread.