“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things
are infinitely the most important."
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I am taking a class on Ancient Cultures and Bible backgrounds. The goal is to gain an understanding of how archaeological discoveries dating to Biblical times substantiate the accounts in the Bible. So much of it is completely new to me, studying history, cultures and mythologies that were never part of the lessons in school. While it’s opening my eyes to a world unknown to me, it is also reinforcing a reality I’m beginning to appreciate more and more.
A recurring refrain from the professor is to value the “little things”. While the majority of the world is fascinated by and seeking sensational discoveries like Noah’s Ark or the Ark of the Covenant, the seemingly insignificant discoveries like a coin or a cup from a certain time, can often provide major insight and understanding into the small details in the Bible.
Often in our lives and especially in our spiritual life, we want the extraordinary and the spectacular. We want quick results and change to come swiftly, not only in our lives but also in the lives of others.
Over the last couple of months, I have been involved in two ventures that are just starting up. The pressure to become big and successful rapidly is always lurking around the corner. This is not imposed externally but the notion lingers, that if it doesn’t grow and expand soon it’s going to fail.
In Mark 4: 30-32, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, that when sown is the smallest seed but yet when it grows becomes the larger than the entire garden and provides shade and a home for the birds. While it is healthy and necessary to grow, this gives me great comfort and an appreciation for small things.
It increases the value of small decisions and small steps – the times I stop myself from saying the words that I know will hurt, yet make my point, the times I decide to listen rather than rush to speak and snap, the times I say quick prayers and depend on God for results rather than manipulating the situation, the times I push myself to do something for someone else rather than being selfish and the times I decide not to yell at the auto driver. A collection of these little things has the potential to grow me so much more than the quick fixes I desperately want.
The parable just before this in Mark 4:26-29, also portrays an agricultural picture of the Kingdom as of a farmer sowing seeds and the plant growing slowly. While this is reassuring, what stands out is that this process occurs independent of the farmer. The plant seems to grow whether he is awake or asleep.
“He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.”
It is difficult to accept that growth and change can occur and we are not directly responsible for it or the ones who make it all happen. It is a humbling truth and offers a picture of the posture we need to be in for real change to happen. God is the one who works in us and it is not necessarily our striving but our submission that matters.
All those small decisions are not for me to be amazed at how good I am, but of gratefulness and humility before the One who works in me graciously and has chosen to not give up on me.
"Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." - Matthew 25:23
Photo Credit: Chiot's Run via Flickr cc