When I first laid eyes on her, immediate joy surged in my belly, ran through my heart and erupted as laughter from my mouth. Clad only in a diaper, hair still damp and mouth open in wailing protests at the attending nurses, our third grandchild had made her claim on our hearts. Ella had arrived.
Two weeks later I drove her and her mother to their newborn photography session. After multiple shots of mom and baby the photographer suggested, “Why don’t we have one with Grandma holding Baby Ella?” This is the picture captured by the camera that day.
Ella is now a loving and lively four-year-old with a personality as big as the room she is in but I always take pleasure in this portrait of her compact little body which would easily fit in my hands. It reminds me of the blessing of things that are small.
We live in a world where BIGGER IS BETTER and worth is measured by MORE. More numbers. More dollars. More sales. More toys. Yet I often think of the “law of opposites” which so often appears in the teachings of Jesus: “The last shall be first”. “The foolish shall confound the wise”. And “He who loses his life shall gain it”.
We live in a world where BIGGER IS BETTER and worth is measured by MORE.
This past weekend I was in North Carolina for a speaker/writer conference with Lysa TerKeurst. Multiple well known authors were present to give words of advice and encouragement. The one recurring theme I heard was a caution to resist measuring our writing by numbers of readers or books sold but rather by how well the written words fulfilled their purpose. That was a truth that resounded deeply within my spirit.
Applause and accolades are ultimately faulty measurements as they are always susceptible to change. Knowing you are doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons is a worthier way to value success.
Never underestimate the importance of small kindnesses, of genuine effort or of the humblest of gifts given in love. The two small coins offered by an impoverished widow became lesson objects when Jesus gave those flaunting their large offerings his perspective on it all. His was a value system not measured by size but rather by intentions.
Knowing you are doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons is a worthier way to value success.
In a culture of materialistic mindset and competitive comparison it becomes easy to lose proper perspective on what has true worth. What we consider insignificant often has great value in the eyes of The One who sees all.
Take for example the time His very own disciples thought the children thronging Jesus were “in the way” of delivering His message to the “more important” adults who were in the crowd. In one sentence Jesus set the record straight on the value of tiny humans who lack power and prestige. “Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven,” he said.
What we consider insignificant often has great value in the eyes of The One who sees all.
My dad use to tell the story of one of his favorite revivalists who, when asked how many conversions he had one night replied, “Three and a half.”
“Oh. So you had three adults and one child come forward for salvation?” the friend replied.
“No. I had three children and one adult.” He went on to explain, “You see, the adult’s life is already half over while those children still have a full life ahead of them.” As a child, I always loved hearing that story and as an adult the math still has a certain sense of logic to me.
I remember my mom often quoting a passage from Zechariah 4:10 instructing to “Despise not the day of small things.” The immediate setting for this passage was when the Jews had returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon and had set about the task of rebuilding the Temple. Many of the older Jews were disheartened when they realized this new Temple would not match the size and splendor of the previous Temple built during Solomon’s reign.
The prophet Zechariah had been sent to encourage them in their efforts and declared to them, “The Lord rejoices to see the work begin. . .” I would love to encourage you with those same words today. If you are feeling insignificant or that the work you are doing is not important, take heart. The economy of God can be very different than the economy of man. He measures from an eternal perspective and His scales weigh what is often unseen.
When I was in Calcutta, India, I visited the tomb of Mother Teresa. Housed on the bottom floor of a structure inhabited by nuns, the walls are inscribed with many of her sayings. My favorite is this: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
I want to be found faithful in the small tasks, the unobserved obedience and the assignments for which I will never hear applause. These will be the things that define my character, refine my attitudes and keep me grateful for the tiny blessings I hold in my arms.