Autumn is a time of small pleasures: glowing sunsets; landscapes painted in colour; hot drinks with friends; crisp, cool, misty mornings.
“Our lives are stories built of small moments. Ordinary experiences. It is too easy to forget that our days are adding up to something astonishing. We do not often stop to notice the signs and wonders. The writing on the wall. But some days we do.”
Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons.
I am that mother praying God will bring friends around her son at a London University. Friends who will witness to him about Jesus.
She is a lady in her seventies who has terminal cancer. She lights the world of her visitors and carers with love and prayer.
He is that father who makes daily visits to his thirty-four-year-old son in a care home.
We are those people who do small things each week in church, and we wonder if it’s all worthwhile.
They were the Israelite people who returned from exile in Babylon and began to rebuild Jerusalem, one small section at a time.
God’s kingdom is made up of people who are prepared to do small things.
As a generation, we’ve become a little obsessed with being noticed, being recognised.
We want a ‘voice’
Or, we want to give others a ‘voice’, so long as that voice chimes with ours.
When we don’t get our own way in democratic elections we take matters into our own hands, not literally, of course, but using much more subtle and subversive methods of belittling others.
We teach our children that they will be great one day, that the only thing standing in their way is hard work and others.
We set ourselves high targets.
We choose success over family.
We value personal happiness over the greater good of others.
Small is unappealing, mostly.
In Christian churches, we talk about ‘finding our calling’: that area of service within the church which God has ‘supernaturally’ equipped us for. Those who find this are blessed indeed and the rest of us are left chasing our spiritual nemesis through life, wondering where we missed the signs.
But in reality, disciples of Jesus take their place amongst others in their generation, fall into line with the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ who have gone before. All of us have a part to play. Mostly, that’s a small part. It usually involves being ‘ordinary’ disciples’ with unremarkable lives, raising ‘average’ children and having non-prestigious job titles. The leading roles in God’s kingdom are not given to the ones who shout loudest or who are most ‘worldly wise’, but rather are given to those who have been faithful in the small things.
On many days, I’m lost in the smallness of what I’m doing. But sometimes, like rainbows in the sky, God paints words of encouragement. Sometimes I even think I get a glimpse of glory.