The other day pastor Jerry and I got talking about big things and little things in our lives.  The big things, of course, are hard to miss.   The little things, on the other hand, are easily missed … and often are much more important than we give them credit for being.

Big things – especially the ones we view as being negative – often get us off course, get us thinking unhealthy thoughts, or lead us to questioning ourselves, or even God.  However, God uses multiple little things afterwards (Gospel actions) to slowly get us back to where we need to be.  In fact, his goal is for us to see that his Gospel actions were actually at work also in those things we view as big and negative!

Yesterday’s Portals of Prayer then affirmed our conversation with the reminder that “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8.1) In fact, as God further reassures us through Paul’s pen, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28) I know it has taken one little thing after another (for years!) for me to come to see how this is true in my life (while I also know that in each passing month new things come up that challenge me anew in this regard).

For many years I kicked myself for not being on track to prepare for pastoral ministry – as many were urging me time after time, year after year.  I knew I was going to be a Lutheran school teacher, and maybe eventually a principal.  I had my MA in school administration and was serving as a Director of Christian Education (not my choice, but His) for about four years before multiple “little things” got me on track.  And then for years afterwards I regretted being undereducated and ‘different’ from most of my peers.  I was sure I would have been a much better pastor and servant in the Kingdom if I had been on the right page from day one (which was probably way back in the fifth grade!).

Still today there are times when I have regrets in this regard, so God continues to send little thing after little thing my way with Gospel assurances that, in spite of my deficiencies and rebellion, he is using this undereducated and ‘different’ pastor just as he planned all along.  Wow!  Romans 8.1 and 8.28 are worth reading over and over again … those little passages are HUGE!  “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  He made us competent as ministers of a new covenant.”(2 Corinthians 3.5-6)

The days following my conversation with pastor Jerry have been filled with people telling me stories of God doing little things in their lives, and through them in the lives of others, to deliver the Gospel’s promises into our world.  First it was a story I heard on the radio.  Then it was two completely different people in two differing home visits.  This was followed by a conversation in our Fireside Lounge, and then another at Comerica Park!  Talk about God trying to make a point!

The problem with these little things is that they are so easy to miss.  Life gets busy … we get focused upon the urgencies before us … time races by … and if we are not consciously looking for them, the little things will fly past – right under our noses – without us ever seeing them.  Plans we make fall apart … time passes … and all of a sudden we are walking through doors oblivious to what is actually taking place.  But God does not stop.  He keeps placing little thing after little thing (Gospel actions) in our path … seeking to open our eyes … our hearts … to see and receive … and ultimately share … the blessings he keeps raining down upon us.

The prophet Jeremiah puts it this way: “The steadfastness of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  It is good for a person to bear the yoke in his youth.  Let him sit lone in silence when it is laid on him.  …  For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he may cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly bring grief to anyone.” (Lamentations 3.22-33)

I love it how, so often, God talks to us in his word from our perspective of what is taking place … and then through little things (nuances) leads us to see his (true) perspective.  From our perspective, we easily get caught up with the big, negative things and wonder where is God? … or why is he punishing me?!  He understands us – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4.15) … meets us where we are … and then subtly, compassionately, gently leads us with little thing after little thing after little thing to where we can see, experience, and share “the abundance of his steadfast love.”

Lord Jesus, open our eyes this day to see your Gospel actions in our lives … and then open our lips to tell others, that their eyes might also be opened.  “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100.5)

Little Things