It seems as though lately I have frequently been more sensitive to little things – perhaps I should really be calling them “little blessings” – in lots of different ways.  Sometimes it is in the narratives I am reading in the Scriptures.  Other times it is in the stories people are telling.  Sometimes it is just in nature or the circumstances surrounding me.
The latter often occurs during my early morning walk/jog.  The observances may be caused by the fact that I use this time for my morning prayers, which help tune me into God’s activity in and around me.  Little things like what the sky is looking like that morning, or the garb that I am wearing.  Sometimes it has to do with the people I encounter or the thoughts that come to my mind that will guide my day.  Often in the middle of a prayer I will remember an important thought from a while ago that had completely slipped my memory.  As these “little things” come to the forefront of my mind I say a silent “thank you Jesus”.  What he is doing at these times is both increasing my wonder at his work/ways and organizing my day to be more productive and caring.
Yesterday I attended of two different Bible studies at two separate congregations.  In the first one, someone mentioned how important it is for us to get out of God’s way for him to accomplish what he is working on.  And my oh my, how many times have I noticed that in myself!  Yet, at the same time we observed, God is the one who puts us in the way … he consistently is working through people (like you and me) to get his work done.  What a wonderful paradox, God puts us in the way and we are called, at the same time, to get out of his way!  This goes well with Paul’s thought “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12.10)
At the second one we were observing nuances in the miracle stories recorded in Mark chapter 5.  The first story (Jesus heals a man with a demon) takes place in gentile territory and, interestingly enough, the “territory” seems to be a big issue.  The demons (named Legion) beg Jesus “earnestly not to send them out of the country” (5.10) … Jesus “gave them permission” (5.13) to stay in the territory.  Afterwards the residents of the territory “beg Jesus to depart from their region.” (5.17)  Jesus also grants their request.  However, when the man who has been healed begs Jesus that he might leave with Jesus, the answer is, “No, go home to your friends.” (5.19)  The actual words of Jesus here are, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you.”  This is interesting because, after performing the next miracle (bringing Jairus’ daughter back to life), we are told that Jesus “strictly charged them that no one should know this.” (5.43)  Perhaps our Lord’s family was right when they said, “He is out of his mind”! (Mark 3.21)
And then there is the First Reading for this coming Sunday, Acts 8.26-40 … talk about a story filled with “little things”:  First an angel talks to Philip (8.26).  Then the Spirit talks to him (8.29).  And at the end “the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away.” (8.39)  How often do these type of things happen to you?  … We are told the Ethiopian is “reading the prophet Isaiah.” (8.28)  How did he have a copy of Isaiah when manuscripts were so rare? (You know, he couldn’t simply go his Holy Bible app)  Why was he reading out loud (Is it, perhaps, true that silent reading had not yet been invented?)?  And, while it is not surprising that upon hearing the Gospel of Jesus explained to him that the Ethiopian asked to be baptized, the first words he speaks are very surprising.  He says, “See, here is water!  What prevents me from being baptized?” (8.37)  This is surprising because earlier in the narrative we had been informed that “this is a desert place.” (8.26) – so how often do you find a pond in the middle of the desert?  And who ever heard of a conversion story ending like this: “The Spirit of the Lord carried Philip (the evangelist in the story) away, and the eunuch (the new convert) saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing”? (8.39) What about follow-up?  Wouldn’t you think that they would want to spend more time together?
I expect you know the Dr. Seuss quote, “Oh, the places you’ll go! … (Hetzner commentary: that is, when we allow God to open our eyes to the little places – or the “little things” – that are all around us every day) … You’ll be on your way up!  You’ll be seeing great sights!  You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”  Look at all the different “little things” he brought together in Acts 8, and then ask yourself, “Does he not still work this way today?”  Look more closely at the miracle stories in Mark 5 and see how neatly all the “little pieces” of the puzzle fit perfectly together for a beautiful picture of Jesus.  And then open your day with a simple request for Jesus to open your eyes to some of the “little blessings” that will be surrounding you that day.  In a world that so loudly and incessantly fills the air with negative shouts, these “little things” contain the powerful voice of Jesus gently saying, “Peace!  Be still!” (Mark 4.39) … to give us the same great calm he there gave to the sea.
I think perhaps these “little things” were what David was talking about as he wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. … May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19.1, 14) … little things that gave David great calm in his stormy life.

Little Things