I’ve been thinking a lot lately about two verses in the Old Testament that sound like they should be mutually exclusive.
A verse that I love is one where the Old Testament prophet Zechariah warns us not to “despise the day of small things.” (Zech. 4:10).
I’m thankful for this reminder. My days are almost always days of “small things”. I’m tempted to consider mine a pretty superfluous life…To think nothing I’m doing adds up to anything with eternal consequences.
Conversely I consider my husband and the things he’s doing, and I often think of the second verse that’s been on my mind, Nehemiah 6:3 “I am doing a great work and can’t come down.” You look at his life and you can clearly see great work he’s invested in. He has the privilege of caring for the poor around the world. Leading institutional change in the church. Investing in eternity through ministry to thousands at our church.
But what if the small things are also the great work of God?
What if there’s “Great work” that looks like great work, but there’s also great work that never gets a shout out? What about people around the world who are humbly, faithfully, offering gifts of grace…
on dusty roads,
in conversations at coffee shops,
next to strangers at airports,
in school classrooms,
in office conference rooms
What about all the small decisions just to remain faithful? To put one foot in front of another?
What days in the Bible seemed like throw aways? Days of small things that didn’t really matter?
The day David did the task of leaving his sheep to bring bread to his important brothers who were doing the “great work” of fighting Goliath and the Philistines?
The day Ruth left her home to travel with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem and start a new life?
The day the widow of Zarephath used the last of her flour and oil to make a meal for Elijah?
The day Mary and Martha opened their home to Jesus?
What if parents crept into their children’s rooms while they were asleep and prayed over them, saying “It may seem like a small thing, but I am doing a great work and I can’t come down.”?
What if businessmen and bus drivers and baristas and teachers and techies sealed their resolve each day to do the small things as Jesus would with the refrain, “I’m doing a great work and I can’t come down.”?
The other day a woman approached John and told him about a friend of hers who she had invited to church for the first time. The friend walked in and saw that John was the pastor she started to cry in utter amazement, at the personal care of God.
She said that she had been on a flight from Seattle to Minneapolis having a terrible day and was in tears (apparently this woman has been crying a lot lately). A man on the flight noticed and asked if she was ok. At the end of the conversation he said, “I’d be happy to pray for you.” When she walked into church for the first time she saw the stranger who had listened and prayed for her on that flight. It was John.
In God’s economy, this small thing may be a greater work than all the more high profile things.
A small thing that has the potential to be a “great work” of God.
You never know…
What’s a small thing in your day that may become a great work of God?