As I stood in my kitchen, scraping scrambled eggs off plates, my head filled with words. It all made sense as the words ran together in my mind making sentences and paragraphs.
Sitting now at my favorite local coffee spot, it's time to put words on the page and I can't bring myself to do it. All my words seem powerless and small.
That is how I have felt for three weeks now-powerless and small.
What can I do? What can I say? How can I offer help and hope? Any word of hope that is spoken will be drowned out by millions of words of hate. Any help offered will be ridiculed in light of the mountains of sorrow and loss.
Do you feel it too - this smallness that permeates our souls when tragedy rolls in day after day? It threatens to render us powerless and weak. How can I effect change from my small place in this world?
When I feel small, it is easier to hide, to pretend that I haven’t noticed the need. To carry on with my little life as though nothing has happened.
But this is not what believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are called to do. And for all of my smallness, that is who I am. A believer. Encountering and sharing the gospel is what I am called to do. And in the smallness of my life is where I am called to live this out. Maybe I cannot reach the devastated mother in France, whose son has been killed by violence, as much as I wish I could, but I can offer comfort to a friend who has received a devastating diagnosis.
And so, I must not despise the smallness and allow it to render me powerless. Instead, I must remember the glory of the One I am following, and the way he uses the small things to point to the greatness of His own Kingdom.
I must remember the smallness of the mustard seed and the leaven in the bread (Matt. 13:31-32), the reflection of the kingdom of heaven in those things that start small and grow in the greatness of God’s glory.
I must remember that God chooses to use what is foolish to shame the wise, and what is weak to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
I must remember that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit, that comfort is for those who mourn and that the meek will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:3-5)
I must remember the tiny fleas in the concentration camps that had the power to keep Nazi soldiers at bay so that the Ten Boom sisters could teach scripture to the other prisoners and bring hope in one of the darkest seasons of human history. (The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom)
I must remember the small infant who came into this world, nursed in the arms of an awestruck teenage girl, who would offer hope for all who are lost in the darkness.
I must remember Jesus.
Today, I had a small conversation with my small three year old. She has been asking questions about God throughout the last two weeks. Her little mind has been filing away names, i.e. Mommy is Heather, the dog is Lilly, the turtle is Donnie, etc. Today she asked, “Who is God?” Wow. Where do I start to explain God to a three-year-old?
“He is the Maker of everything.” I replied, thinking the beginning might be a good place to start.
“No, the other God!” She came back a little perturbed.
“You mean Jesus?” I ask.
“Well, it’s the same God…” I started to say, then stopped. We’ll save the trinity for another day.
I started again. “He’s the One who died for you.”
“He loves me?” she asks. We sing the song every night when we tuck her in so I know she knows.
“Yes.” I turned away, thinking our conversation is over and has ended nicely.
“Because he made you. You are his.”
Yep. I’m about to step into the never ending “Why?” spiral. I think for a moment, trying to come up with an answer that will close this interrogation. The shorter catechism of the Westminster Confession pops into my mind, so I go with it.
“So that the world can see his glory and we can enjoy him forever.”
Silence. It went over her head. She saw something shiny and skipped away.
But the thought stuck with me. We are small and live small lives, but we belong to the Creator, and are loved by him deeply.
So when small things like kindness come on stage in the midst of hate, war and death, it radiates with his glory.
As I read about the battles fought throughout Turkey this past week, there was one story in particular that has since gone viral. A police officer reached into a tank to pull out a militant soldier. The people began throwing rocks and bricks at the soldier and the officer held up his hand to tell the people to stop. He embraced the soldier and pulled him to safety.
As I read this, I thought of Christ on the cross forgiving the thief next to him. He pulled his enemy to safety when he said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Christ pulled every believer to safety as he gave up his spirit on that cross.
I don’t know if the officer was a believer or not, but I do know that when kindness resembles that of Christ, it is such a stark contrast to evil that it can’t be overlooked. It is so bright, that even a smidgen of it sprinkled in a moment of tragedy shines brightly enough to declare his goodness and bring us joy.
In my small place on this planet, I search for the glory of God, because I know it is here if I will but have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
I can’t make peace with armies on the other side of the world, but I can offer kindness to the people living in my house and the house next door, and even the people in a house across town.
I can’t resolve national issues from where I am, but I can resolve to defend those who are victims of a broken world with prayer and help when the opportunity arises.
I can’t offer hope to everyone, but I can teach my children to be advocates for justice, who will then teach their own children, and thereby influence others for generations.
Maybe what I have to offer is very small, laughable even. But it’s not my place to withhold what’s been put in my hands if it’s in my power to give it. Like the little boy with a lunch of fish and bread, I can hand what I have to Jesus and let the glory of God take center stage.
And so can you. You may think your small life has no effect or influence, but you would be wrong to believe that. You are effecting and influencing in ways of which you may not be aware because mustard seed smallness is easily overlooked. But it’s not our job to decide what God uses for his glory, all we can do is surrender what we have to him and allow him to use it as he sees fit.
I love what Oswald Chambers says in his devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest,
“It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God-but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people…”
My prayer for us today is that we would not be intimidated by the power of evil we see flooding our media feeds. I pray that we would pray earnestly for the glory of God to be revealed in the darkest places on this planet, as well as in the darkness of our own hearts. I pray that we would love all people courageously and offer help faithfully, even when the help we give seems small compared to the great need. I pray that the smallness of our lives would usher in the kingdom of heaven, and we would find our mourning turn to laughter as God’s glory fills the earth.
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31