Jane M. Phinney | Sept. 16, 2019
I once stitched a small plaque that said, “Take time for the little things.” For some reason, it’s our natural inclination to miss the finer details that make up the bigger picture. We assume we understand those sequential steps toward the goal. Thus, thinking we already possess the skills, we fail to read the directions & check for needed supplies. Our flesh loves independence, so in haste, we pass over the progressive steps that ensure a firm foundation. We make haste to attain what appears to be bigger &, therefore, better. We have a premature excitement & tend to focus, first, on the priorities that are most appealing to us.
It was so in the rebuilding of the temple. After Babylon fell, the first group of Jews returned a year later to start the work. They laid the foundation but, because of the opposition surrounding them, they faltered & the work stopped. They got sidetracked. The temple sat, unfinished, for 16 years. God use Haggai, among others, to shake things up a bit. Because the people were focusing on themselves…what they saw as most important, while God’s house was an unfinished mess, they were challenged to consider their ways--to see how their efforts had gotten them nowhere, ”sowing much but harvesting little.” God caused a drought to get their attention. And they listened. In our spiritual life, as well, overlooking small steps can have disastrous effects.
As I read this story, it struck me that the enemy’s intent for small things is always in direct opposition to God’s plan for our good, in opposition to His love, & to His glory. God is detailed. We see this evidenced all around us daily. God ordains small things.
And small things add up. Both life & death begin with one small thing. One seemingly insignificant choice can be the beginning of a slow fade, an undetected start to a downward spiral in your job, your marriage, your parenting…in your spiritual journey with the Lord Jesus. It doesn’t take much. Compounded smalls grow. The enemy knows that. Before you realize it, he’s gotten you to drop your guard & unknowingly recruited you for your own demise. If he can just get you to by-pass some of the basic essentials, to grow weary or apathetic or irritated by the details, you wake up one morning & exclaim, “How did I get here?”
In Zechariah 4 the details of the temple project continue to unfold. I’m no theologian but I see 2 safeguards for life in this discourse. 1) “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts.” Might, in verse 6, translates out to mean power, strength, military force or wealth. But God says no. His Spirit is our ultimate Life source. We would be wise to seek Him for direction in the details. Bigger is not always better. And sometimes, less is more. 2) I love the question posed in verse 10. “For who has despised the day of small things?” If we’re honest, most of us have…at one time or another. We tend to focus on the goal & not what it takes to get there. God’s will is not about the result only. It’s revealed step by step. One decision of obedience can literally chart our course. One action can change a situation, or a life, to His honor & glory. Or not.
In my last blog, I wrote about the ways that GOD SEES US. I believe that God uses the “small things” so that WE SEE HIM. Once you stop to reflect on the Lord’s creativity, expressed in your everyday experiences, your heart can’t help but be softened & changed...maybe even overflowing with gratitude. One June morning at 4:30, I started my day by purposely reflecting on the blessings of the small…the ways that my Father reveals Himself to me. Your list, no doubt, will look different than mine, but I challenge you to stop & recount the details that bless, & direct, your life—those things you possibly take for granted.
Our lists will be endless, but here’s part of mine: A quiet house… birds chirping while it’s still dark outside… small words that clarify a Bible verse… God calming my heart when I’m fearful… pens & paper… lights… a soft chair…pillows… ice cubes… a cup of coffee… an answered prayer…peace in my soul…soap… showers… blades of green grass… flower petals… a hug… a friend checking in on me… the gift of cookies, soup, or bread…recipes… words woven together in poetry… the heart-shaped potato chip on my lunch plate… notes that make the music that soothes my soul… continuously dividing cells that birth new life… the heritage of grandchildren…my faithful husband…spiritual family…my phone…air conditioning…windows… a working washer & dryer…a note in the mail…reading…porch time…Jesus agonizing in Gethsemane…Jesus dying for me…Jesus interceding for me…Jesus giving me His Life…the Bible…hope in my soul when I’m lonely…miraculous provision…trials that birth compassion for other people…our daily bread…a reliable vehicle…people who support our ministry…reaching believers in other countries…physical limitations that teach me spiritual dependence…kind doctors…the list goes on & on & on.
Just as Jesus miraculously fed 5000 with a few loaves & 2 fish, He wants us to recognize the powerfully small things that He uses to move the mountains in our lives. Jesus didn’t own a thing. He didn’t even have a regular place to sleep. And He didn’t work to establish an earthly kingdom. He had it all, but He gave it up, emptying Himself of His God-given rights…for me…for you. As in Biblical days, He continues to meet the needs of our souls, in ways that we can understand. Then, we share what He’s given to us, with others who are called to be His own. I used to pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” But recently I’ve changed that to, “Heal my unbelief.” For me, that healing comes in acknowledging how He daily displays His love for me, how He watches out for me. Stop to recognize the little things, & don’t despise the small that leads you in His will. Little really is much, when God is in it.