When the Big Things in life start to demand my attention, I have found that doing Small Things keeps me grounded and discerning. Big Things are when you have church disagreements, parenting problems, life decisions, betrayal, financial problems, death, change, transition, illness, spiritual struggles, relational strain, job stress. These always come, and we are never immune to the toll that living in a broken world takes on us. The Big Things threaten our sanity, our spirituality, our well-being. They shake us and rattle us and throw us off course. They don't seem to care about how frail we are, how depleted our spirits feel, and that our resources are limited. We cannot control these Big Things. They will have their way.
What can we control? The Small Things. I can get up each morning and make my bed and get simple, comfortable and pretty clothes on. I can feed a little one breakfast and tidy my kitchen. I can move the laundry forward from washer to dryer to hands to hangers in closets. I can open the Living Word and receive bread for my hungry spirit and water for my parched soul. I can reach out to friends and ask for prayer and for wisdom. I can read a stack of picture books to young children and talk to older children about life and goals. I can take a new mother a meal and mail a birthday package to a dear friend. I can snuggle up to my husband and receive his warmth and care. I can gather fresh flowers in vases to brighten our home. I can make beautiful things with my hands. I can plant seeds in soil and water. I can surrender myself to the Lord, His sovereign and good plan and to the dailiness of loving the ones in my path.
The Big Things always try to tell us that the Small Things don't matter. They try to paralyze and make us stagnant and myopic. The temptation to throw up our hands and lose heart and drown in our miseries is strong. We feel weak, and we think that we are powerless in our lives. It takes tremendous fortitude to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to keep doing the next right thing, and to keep loving the person in our path. There is a holy tension between a surrender that is waiting and trusting and open-handed and yet moving forward, living on purpose and with daily intention. An active trust.
As the Big Things have made a strong appearance in my life this summer, I have chosen not to fight them but to receive them as gifts. The Big Things are painful but they always, always produce good and beautiful fruit in my life. I certainly don't like it, but I also know that God uses pain in extraordinarily redemptive ways. And when the Big Things start to become Bigger than God in my heart and soul, I promptly set them mentally aside the best that I can so that seeking God in the Small Things come first. God shows up in my heart with His peace and His light and His love when I am taking long walks, sewing quilts, preparing meals, changing sheets, folding towels, rubbing backs, setting tables, praying, writing, reading, stitiching. When my hands get engaged, my heart calms and is able to hear and to discern and to trust.
May we not despise the Small Things where God is active and present and heals. Jesus walked around in fields and went fishing and fed people and celebrated weddings and touched strangers. He did the most normal of activities in the midst of very Big Things that were happening and that we going to happen. He listened to God as He walked and as He talked and didn't rush to figure it all out and get to the More Important Things. Every small step was the Important Thing and so it is for us.