there’s the obvious smalls, named Hazel and Gus, to whom most of my creative energy, time, and effort are devoted day in and day out. they come with many other small things: small time blocks for activities caused by small attention spans (hazel) and small wakeful periods (gus), small clothing to wash and fold and tuck away in drawers, small bodies to lift, carry, cuddle, and bathe.
it’s taken me a considerable amount of time to get okay with all that smallness, to let go of resentment over how their smallness keeps me from the supposedly bigger things i’d like to think i’m capable of, and to learn to savor and celebrate it for the beautiful gift that it truly is.
but there’s another kind of smallness i’ve been grappling with lately. the smallness that comes with our ministry this season.
see, we launched this 10-month live-and-learn discipleship school we’re borrowing from 24-7 Prayer called The Vision Course. it’s a beautiful life model, a heart-shifting curriculum, a year set aside to let Jesus touch students in important ways. i’m proud to be offering it here and proud of Coop and Tim and Tony for shaping it so well and leading it with such integrity and passion.
but we have two students. two students where we were hoping for six to eight.
and when you get a number that much lower than the target number, it can be easy to think of it as failure. then there’s our friends who launched a [somewhat] similar school in our neighborhood and they have 7. so i start to compare (not a great idea). and i wonder if we’re doing something wrong so God isn’t blessing it, or if we aren’t attractive enough as a ministry, or if we didn’t recruit widely enough or well enough. these two students are pure gold, so it isn’t who they are uniquely/individually that’s a problem. but the number of them… it’s been bugging me. more than i care to admit.
small often means failure or shortcoming. that’s the trouble, isn’t it? somehow in our culture small has come to mean something less-than, unworthy of attention.
grace came to me in the form of our Older Wiser Mama-Bible-Study Facilitator a couple weeks ago, when she gave us 5 passages of scripture to look up, along with instructions to guess what the theme is and why she chose it for us.
guess what the word was? “small.”
each passage was from the gospels. in each one, Jesus is talking about or demonstrating how He values and works with smallness. examples: faith small as a mustard seed moves mountains, a small boy’s tiny lunch feeds thousands, two tiny sparrows whose fall is noticed by the Father, a small bit of money faithfully and sacrificially invested or offered. how had i not noticed this before?! how had i come to see feel that Jesus’ call was to large-scale, dramatic, full-throttle action instead of ordinary, small-scale living offered in love to Him?
this opens up so much grace for me as a mother, occupied as i am with so many literally small things. it also offers up to me some reassurance that even though we at the boiler room have only two lives to invest in this year (rather than 8 or 50 or more), we have two. lives. (!!) to invest in. do you see the gravity of that?!
the Good Shepherd is one who leaves 99 to search after 1. ONE. a single life is worth running after in passionate pursuit. the Father God is like the father of the prodigal (AND his brother who also was having trouble grasping how much his daddy loved him and who was also pursued by that daddy!), who pursues the naughty son while he’s still far off and throws a big fat party over him. Our Jesus does not wait until we’ve gathered a critical mass before He says that it counts. 1 counts. 2 count.
and then — as if the above isn’t enough — He reminded me of scripture that was prophesied over the SBR in it’s infancy:
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, — Zecchariah 4:10
so i say Amen.
far be it from me to say that what the Father calls significant is something other than just that.