It’s that time of year, when we find ourselves slipping our feet into shoes and socks again, arms snugly wrapped in long sleeves to keep warm in the evenings. This week I put on a sweatshirt for the first time in months, and as I did, I was reminded of the subtlety of change.
Change doesn’t often come in sweeping movements changing everything in one moment. Instead, change comes quietly and in small incremental steps, moving people, bodies, objects, and organizations towards something new or different.
One morning shortly after I slipped on my sweatshirt in the evening chill, I helped my four-year-old get dressed, only to discover we had put on his third pair of shorts that week, that no longer fit. Some mornings I glance down at his legs and remark to him, “You need to stop growing…” for his legs seem so long, and his torso so lanky compared to the day before. But most of the time, I don’t notice it, this physical growing my boys are doing. It can’t be seen with the naked eye, this incremental, step by little step change that’s happening in their bodies. But just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
The Small Changes Are Deeply Significant
Often, we don’t notice small changes until the small changes snowball to create a larger change. It’s the larger changes we notice- the big decisions made, the announcements broadcasted out, the drastic 180 turns that stop us in our tracks. But behind each one of these is a series of small, subtle, incremental movements that moved a person along towards the life altering decisions we come to know about.
You begin paying more attention to your finances or family or your health. These small decisions create, at first, small changes in your life. It may not be significant at first, but that doesn’t mean it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Paying attention leads to more change and more small decisions, which eventually snowball.
Looking back on who we were when we began to make small changes, we can see how far we’ve come. Big changes and grand decisions aren’t made in isolated moments of inspiration but are a result of God’s often small and subtle nudges, and callings over the course of many days; quietly calling us to listen deeper to our lives and to God’s subtle voice.
You see, we can forget so easily, the importance of the small and the subtle when what gets the attention of the masses is the drastic and dramatic. In fact, it’s in the small and subtle ways that God often alters heart’s directions- pushing the trajectory of a person’s life just left of center and down a whole new path. God often doesn’t move in loud, bombastic ways following the lead of the culture around us. No, instead God leads differently.
Still small voices.
Whispers and wind.
Breezes and beauty.
Pay Attention to the Subtle Ways of God
These are the ways God communicates- small yet powerful, whispering yet impacting, subtle but profound. Remember friends, in God’s economy the weak are strong, the weary are given rest, the foolish made wise, and the small are used in big ways. It is worth our while to begin to train our eyes, hearts and minds to pay attention to that which is seemingly stuck, not moving, lost beyond change; because God still speaks in the small, in the whispers, in the ordinary.
What we view as fixed, God is working on beyond our vision. What we view as stuck God can be slowly shifting. What we view as concrete God is not limited by. When you hear it’s hopeless… it’s not beyond change! When you see no evidence for new life, God can be working towards resurrection! When you have given up hope for change to take place, take heart, God has not given up!
It’s can be easy to give up hope for any changes to happen when you’ve been praying for years for something to shift. It can be easy to give up hope for anything to be different when “It’s always been that way.” Or, “they’ve always been that way.” But friend, today find encouragement in the God who slips in unnoticed and specializes in out of the box ways of working in the world.
Don’t Give Up, God is Working
To Elijah God shows up not in the thunder, rain, fire, wind, or earthquake, but in a still small voice. To Adam and Eve, God comes as a refreshing presence in a garden. To the blind man he comes as a spit slinger. To the world God came not to the powerful and rich, those with the means to broadcast his birth to those with the most prestige, but rather to the young, disadvantaged, and poor. To the woman at the well, Jesus shows up as a thirsty, unpretentious man. Yes, sometimes God makes things abundantly clear, in loud ways, but more often it’s in quiet ways that God speaks.
Maybe you’ve been longing for change in your life but can’t seem to grasp it. Maybe you’ve given up hope for any sort of change because it’s been too long. Or maybe your belief in change itself is just warn thin. Take heart, my friends.
Change may be happening, without you knowing it, and it’s one or two short steps from making itself known in your life. Change may be happening, and you just can’t see it right now. Hold on, because God has not given up working! Maybe it’s just we who have lost our ability to see God’s work in subtle ways. May we be people who hope when all hope has been lost that God specializes in the forgotten, the stuck, and the lost. Pay attention today, God’s subtle voice may just push you towards a seemingly small change that you’ll look back on and declare… “that day was when it all started changing!”
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