The Little Big Things

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You know, over time I have found that if I don’t act upon something right away, small as it may seem, I just won’t act upon it at all.

And if we carry on that way, well…

It adds up to a big ZERO.

Zilch. Nada. Emptiness.

You’ve heard it said many ways and many times, I’m sure: The little things make all the difference in the world.

It’s said a lot because it is TRUE.

A whole bunch of little things – little or small acts of kindness – yield the great stuff of life.

The BIG stuff that’s really, really awesome? It’s made up of a bunch of little things that have all added up over time to actually mean something.

A relationship nurtured little by little over time….

A thought that crosses your mind – and is turned into action – to do a small thing to make another’s day….

Time spent with someone that ends up making all the difference in their outlook…

A hug, a kind word, taking the last seat, opening that door…

Big and awesome things are good, but a bunch of little things can be GREAT.

Those seemingly insignificant things – or the things that only seem cool for a moment – they can make the impression of Jesus and His kind of love upon a person’s life.

Guess what else? A whole bunch of those little things delivered consistently every time and over a long period of time? Those are actually very, very BIG.

Those are BIG life-changers.

Those are BIG impressions made in another’s experience, life, heart.

Those are BIG testimonies of the truth that a heart filled with the love of Jesus – one that follows through – one that is there every single possible time, time and time again.

Those are the ones that make it count. They count for something.

They count a lot.

They matter a lot.

These little things – well, they just plain make BIG.

BIG is good if it’s something that is made up of little bits of love and truth every step of the way.

Big is good if it is the end result of walking in gentleness, truth, self-sacrifice, and most of all love.

The little things of Jesus and His ways? They aren’t small, my friends. They are packed with mighty molecules of Jesus, who He really is, His character, His love, His – ALL.

If you, like me, sometimes grow weary or start feeling helpless when you are only able to do one thing that just seems…well, “small” or insignificant – please, please remember not to stop. Don’t let the devil make you think it’s not worth it. Every single thing we do with the desire to please Jesus and share His love matters.

It matters BIG.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves  has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know  God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

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Give it Away, Give it Away, Give it Away Now!

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Sometimes we get weary.

We are tired, worn down, or even sad and grumpy.

It’s as though the mere thought of smiling might cause our faces to crack into a million little pieces if we even dared to do it.

But on the days that I am not the weary one, I can forget to give away my own smile. It’s all too easy to forget to remember.

If you aren’t overwhelmed today, won’t you join me in giving your smiles away? I bet that if we joined together in prayer, the Lord will provide plenty of them to go around.

It makes a difference. Maybe not right away, but it does make a difference.

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True Glue

Here’s something strange for you to ponder along with me today. I don’t know what to call this thing that I have observed throughout life. It’s really quite frustrating and strange, but also strangely liberating in a way when I think about it.

It’s the fact that quite often, things just don’t seem to “gel” in the way we think that they will. See, I am kind of thinking that the glue that holds us together actually spills out over the sides of all the puzzle pieces sometimes. It’s a messy kind of glue, yet a strong one. It’s not perfectly stuck together in a pleasing-to-the-eye kind of way.

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Let me elaborate just a bit with you, using myself as an example again since I can only speak for me and not anyone else’s experience.

I have gone through seasons in my life where everything was rolling along smoothly physically. I was enjoying the utmost regarding health, energy, vitality, just the whole deal. Yet many of those pockets of time in my life that I had the physical good stuff were laced with a simultaneous darkness that was pervasive inside of me. Physically I was awesome! Mentally, emotionally, and heart-wise? Not so much.

I have also experienced periods of time in which things are going well on the inside, but I am falling apart somewhat on the outside.  For example, right now my body is giving me a lot, I  mean a lot, of trouble. I have yet to find out along with my doctors and therapists what exactly is going on. I hide it well – so I have complete and total awareness of the fact that it could be much, much worse. I know people can reach a point physically where it is no longer possible to hide the pain. However, it is still very pervasive and can be consuming, because the pain never goes away.

I pause for a moment as I write and share with you as the Spirit whispers inside of me, “Is your pain your best friend, or am I?” It may always be with me, that ugly pain, this is true. But it can NOT define me.

I belong to HIM.

I am filled with joy and peace and love right now, even though I don’t like my pain enemy. My body seems to be falling apart, but my heart is more whole (although it always needs work – daily) than it has been before when I had the physical stamina of something that seemed almost – supernatural.

So it’s true – the physical and the spiritual are just not gelling the way I want them to and I don’t enjoy that much.

 But I’m whole nonetheless.

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See, that’s got me really thinking a lot, friends.  That’s got me praising Jesus for just how Awesome that He truly is. He can make me whole even when my body is falling apart! He was able to take all the pieces of my emotional and spiritual mess from darker times and put them back together in a new way – His way – and make me whole again. I’m sure He will regarding this pain stuff too one day. If not here on earth, when He takes me home.

This I know.

Maybe some day that stuff will stay together and then the physical pieces will be in a better place and it will  happen all at the same time. God can do whatever He wants.

But I must tell you something. Right now? I tend to think it won’t happen that way. Right now I really think this may be the way God likes to do things with His children. He doesn’t want some kind of fake masterpiece of a puzzle that looks like a gorgeous piece of art for all the world to enjoy for the superficial beauty that it possesses. He wants others to SEE the glue. He IS that glue. When we go home to heaven, I think it will look different than it does now. But here? We need to show the glue.

I think He wants people to see HIM and our wholeness in HIM through our flaws and through our brokenness.

The beauty in the ugly of it all.

That’s kind of cool when I think about it. This duality of things that look like they don’t make sense or fit together the right way, yet they, when glued together with the blood of Jesus Christ are totally and completely whole. The real kind of whole. The real finished puzzle that keeps being re-created and re-worked to become even more beautiful over time.

Our way is not the right way. It may be prettier way, or the feel-good kind of way, but it doesn’t necessarily bear witness to the saving and healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.

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When people occassionally tell me they think I really “have it together” I know it’s time to get to know them a bit better and have a conversation. I know then that it’s time to share a bit more with them about just how very flawed and imperfect I really am. I know then, with no doubt whatsoever, that when I share just how ugly my puzzle or story may look, but just how beautifully my Savior has crafted it, I will be able to bring true glory to Him.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

In some ways it’s better to have to look for the beauty in things isn’t it? Instead of it being just right there in your face, you have to dig and search. I think it’s part of what makes us relatable, as Christians who follow after Christ, to others who may not know Him. Jesus Himself came as a common looking man, chose the profession of a carpenter, hung out with sinners and tax collectors, and wore a crown of thorns instead of one made of gemstones and gold.

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I see beauty in that, don’t you? I see beauty in that blood, beauty and truth and compassion underneath those thorns. I see beauty and mercy and love in that sacrifice seen in the torn up flesh and the scrambling to hug the cross that meant everything for you and for me. I see beauty in the crying out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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I see beauty in that ugly.

I see my Beautiful Lord and Savior.

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And guess what else? Because of Jesus, we get to know something about what it is to be held together by true glue.

Oh, and by the way……It WILL all gel together the way it was always meant to again one day.

Yes, oh yes, it WILL.

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Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given.  Romans 5:3-5

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:3

The Gap

The theme of surrender has been pervasive in my life over the last two years. Sadly, I cannot report that it was important to me over my entire lifetime.

What comes along with that though, is not “happiness”, so to speak. It is a lot of angst and frustration that is ironically, but divinely, mingled with joy, growth and peace.

It’s a weird gap to reside in ~ that gap between surrender and acceptance. I tell you now: the serenity prayer feels like it was made just for me sometimes.

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How about you? Do you sometimes feel, as you press in to know Jesus more and let HIM live through YOU, the heaviness of the battle your flesh is waging? Do you feel like it’s dark and crazy in the gap sometimes? Do you wonder if you are all alone while you are there?

I so often must ask myself about certain things: Am I giving up on this or am I letting go of control and letting God take the reins? It’s hard, isn’t it? To discern the difference at times. That’s where the wisdom part comes in to play. That’s where true surrender really lies for me. Surrendering to the waiting game. Existing in the gap for a while. Remembering that Jesus is with me there. Trusting in Him to give me His wisdom. And then obeying His leading in my life ~ obeying.

What is the difference then between surrender and acceptance? I don’t have all the answers. I just know that God eventually enlightens me and brings me out of the bad one of the two if I am “doing it wrong.” He brings me out of it if I truly pray and wait upon Him. He whispers to me in ways I cannot explain to not give up – to let Him take it – to keep going. And yes, sometimes He reveals that I have to let something go. Sometimes those somethings are things I don’t want to let go of at all!

But the gap is the worst place for me, even though I am strangely thankful for it. How about you? I so often cry out to the Lord and say “please just tell me whether I am supposed to let go or keep going and try to change this.” But then I realize that part of my surrender to Him is being in the place of the not knowing for a while. He is faithful and merciful, and in His own timing, He draws me out of the gap and into the light.

He’s done that recently for me in one area of my life, and it’s abundantly clear. In another area, I’m still in that in-between place.

But I’m not alone.

It is so important to remember that the gap may seem dark, but His light is one that illuminates any crevice if we just let it take over ~ if we surrender. I think that’s what that peace and joy stuff of Jesus is all about. It’s not contingent upon human feelings, human vision, human experience. It’s the divine stuff that we truly don’t have adequate words for but that God knows how to translate directly into our hearts.

I don’t know about you, but I am almost always in the gap regarding one or two things (or more). But I try to remind myself that in so many other ways, I’ve been pulled up out of the ditch when I was close to losing hope it would ever happen. It’s easy to focus upon the parts we don’t like and the places we feel stuck in and forget to remember the ones the Lord has pulled us out of already.

So, I ask you today: Is there something in life right now that you aren’t sure about in relation to surrender and acceptance? Do you know if you are giving up, or if you are letting go, waiting upon, and turning it over to God? Maybe just asking that question prayerfully will yield an answer for you.  And maybe it won’t yet, and the waiting will continue for a while.

I think the burning question for us is are we going to wait with the Lord? Have we invited Him to reside there with us? If so, let’s not forget that He really is there with us even if we feel like we can’t see Him. Let’s trust ourselves to Him and have faith that if we seek Him, He will reveal to us – in His timing – whether or not we need to do something different or continue to wait for Him to bring His plan to fruition.

Let’s also not forget to happily and willingly step out of the gap when He tells us it’s time. And until then? We get to hold His hand while we are in there. We get to call upon His magnificent and holy name and He will be there.

Only He can bridge any gap that we experience in a truly lasting and redeeming way.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 ESV

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