“To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
There is a story on John Piper’s Desiring God website which I believe illustrates the importance of seemingly small things. Arnie and Olive Nelson faithfully operated Bethlehem Baptist Church’s tape ministry as volunteers when John Piper was pastor. Arnie would come to the church every week to duplicate tapes from the previous Sunday. Every week, Olive manually typed every tape label and she and Arnie would label each tape by hand. Olive would also hand-type all the mailing labels and the two of them would package and mail the tapes to people around the world, often including a personal note to the recipient. Olive’s database was a black 3-ring notebook where she meticulously hand-recorded every transaction for every person.
When Arnie and Olive decided to retire from the tape ministry in 1994, it prompted John Piper to ask about doing something with the tape ministry. The Desiring God as we know it now sprung out of that request. The thousands of John Piper’s sermons that are now listened to every month on the internet or CDs grew out of Arnie and Olive’s ministry. And had they not carefully cataloged and preserved all of John’s sermon tapes for 14 years, Desiring God’s online audio library might be half its size.
But I don’t think Arnie and Olive ever imagined that something like Desiring God would result from the tape ministry. They just labored quietly and diligently because their Lord had given them a stewardship and because they loved their church family and because they wanted others to hear the sermons. But God intended to do more with their labors than they foresaw.
God simply loves to do this. He loves to take something small and use it for his glory in ways we cannot imagine. We are easily impressed with people and organizations that are uber successful and quick to evaluate what God has given us to do as insignificant in comparison. We must be very careful. God is often not impressed with what impresses us.
We never know what God might be growing in what you choose to do in 2015. What might God do through the 15 minutes you spend reading the Bible every day, or the time you spend seeking His will in prayer. Or the smile you give to someone walking in the door, or in the diaper you changed, or the Northstar Group member you prayed and supported, or in the person you invite to church. We can be confident of this: He is doing more than we can see. He always is. Someday we will be amazed at how God can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
So I encourage you to make a commitment to do the small things we will talk about in our series, Small Things, Big Difference. Start right where you are. Our prayer is that it will help you hold fast to this promise God gives us through the Apostle Paul: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58.
1. Do you believe small things really count? If not, why not?
2. What small things have you seen God do in us?
3. What’s one thing you would like to change about yourself or accomplish this year? Is it something you need to take out of your life? Or is it something you need to add into your life?
4. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Pray and ask God to help you construct a list of the small things that He has been preparing for you to do in 2015.
5. What’s the first step you need to take to start a small new beginning?