I Almost Missed It
I remember vividly the short days between when my son started standing and when he started walking. I remember them not because I paid attention so intently to them, but because I almost missed them.
He’d crawl over to the table. Hands and knees in sync, chasing the wind to get there as fast as his little legs can carry him. Then up on one knee, he’d smile and squeal, anticipating the victory coming to him. Both knees would stabilize him, as one foot came underneath him, then the next. Finally, his whole body would straighten up as if to shout to the world, “I’m not as small as I seem. See I can stand!”
My boy would do this over and over and over again practicing what it was like to be upright, what it was like to be on level ground with the rest of us. A seemingly small act- practiced over and over for accuracy, to master it just right, to give his little life more confidence and a new perspective.
Some days I’d catch glimpses of it, what he was doing, what he was learning, how he was becoming BIG one stance at a time. But a lot of days, I took it for granted- this small thing, this small beginning. He was my second, so I knew what was coming, the cruising and then the walking. In my impatient moments, I missed the weight of the small thing he was doing.
And yet for his life, his one brilliant, glorious life- it was no small feat.
It was BIG, it was really big.
And so, I began stopping to savor the moment, savor the bigness camouflaged in the small act of standing on his own.
Slow down, Shannon. Pay attention. I sensed the Holy Spirit beckoning me through this little one’s smiles and squeals.
The small things matter. Remember, this.
I almost missed it.
I had forgotten the importance of the small beginning. Thankfully I was reminded by the Voice of Wisdom, the Voice of the Holy Spirit.
The ways in which you string words together, they matter. The tone with which you speak, it matters. The ways you start, the ways you finish, the ways you love in all the in between times.
It matters, oh, it matters.
But Do the Small Things Matter in My Life?
We have a hard time knowing this, living this out, don’t we? We, like the people of Judah, wonder if we are making a difference.
We wonder if the ways we are working are actually changing the world.
We wonder if the two minutes we took to stop and really engage in conversation with our co-worker matters in their day.
We wonder if the monotony and faithfulness of sticking it out when relationships get hard, will truly pay off.
We wonder if the small changes we make at the beginning of the year, especially if they feel like sacrifices, will be worth it at the end of the year.
We wonder if what we do each day, will matter ten years from now.
Will the diligence we put into honing our craft today, make a difference down the road? Will the books read and the kindness shared and the love we lavish on our kids, amount to building up the next generation of leaders?
We dismiss the work we do, the small acts of love, the small ways we create each day. We find what we’re doing is not a ‘great’ as the next person, or as the people or organizations we hold on pedestals.
In doing so we come to despise our own life’s work.
God Rejoices in the Small Beginnings
When they started to rebuild the temple, the people of Judah wondered this, too. Will rebuilding the temple do anything? Will rebuilding the temple to worship the Lord bring us the healing we’re looking for? Will rebuilding the temple lead us back to the glory days of power and prestige, or will the days of exile always haunt us?
And into that wondering, the prophet Zechariah, the voice of God to his people, Judah, speaks to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah at the time.
After commanding the rebuilding of the temple, the Lord speaks these words to his people, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand,” (Zechariah 4:10).
A plumb line was used to measure and make sure a foundation was level, to make sure it was straight. Just the act of picking up the plumb line to begin making the measurements for the foundation, this was something God took great delight in.
He rejoiced in seeing work BEGIN.
In God’s eyes, a small beginning is not small at all. The small beginning is significant.
The small beginning, the small work, holds the power of God to bring flourishing to your little corner of the world.
The small beginning, the small work, is a line in the story of your life, and one line in your story can be powerful in the epic tale of God’s activity in our world.
The day of the small beginning, the day of the mundane and ordinary work, this is not to be despised, but rather offered back to God. From the outside our small acts of love, our small intention to reach out to another, our small diligence to create beauty and work towards flourishing, is BIG.
It’s not big because we make it that way; no, far from it. It’s big because God holds the power to exponentially multiply what we pour out, weaving a grand story bigger than us, wider than our small lives, and more significant than anything we could amount to on our own.
Your Day of Small Beginnings Matters
The day of small beginnings or small middles or small endings, matter, because it’s really not about us at all.
These days, words, and acts matter because in some mysterious way, they contribute to a Kingdom grander, and fuller than we could ever imagine.
These small things we do and create, with great love, point to world the power and wideness of a great big God, who is deeply entrenched in each pore of our little lives.
And that my friends, is something to rejoice in.
So rejoice today, in the time you take to cook a meal, which will nourish the bodies in your home. A small deed, with large impact.
Rejoice today, in the ways you plug away at the creative endeavor your heart has been aching to make. A small act of beauty, with glorious impact in the hands of God.
Rejoice today, in the small progress you see in your child as you patiently encourage and love them into their growth. A small moment of virtue, piling up into a positive and grace filled relationship.
Rejoice today, in the small words you say with intention and great love, to a spouse or friend or acquaintance. Small words, which you may never know the impact of, but may remain, etched in another’s heart.
The smallness of your life- in the grand scheme of the world’s bigness may not seem great. But, friends today, do not despise the day of small beginnings, because you have the power of God’s grand story backing each small thing you engage in today.
The impact of these small things, we may not see this side of eternity, but we do know those small acts will go straight into eternity, and will somehow, some way count for the flourishing of Kingdom of God.
And that is a big thing, indeed!