Many things in life start slow and build over time. Many things start out small, but with discipline grow into something significant. When it comes to saving money for the future, the recommendation is to just get started and not worry about the amount. The recommendation for dieting has always been that starving is not the answer, in fact if you stick with that strategy, you’ll most likely abandon it quickly and if you stick with it, you’ll just gain it all back and more! When it comes to exercise, starting slow and easy has always been the recommendation. So why don’t we pay attention to these recommendations and suggestions? Maybe it’s because we want the gratification that comes with immediate results, even if we know it’s unrealistic.
When our relationship with our spouse or even God takes a turn for the worst, we oft-times want it resolved and restored immediately. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it’s just not realistic and we set ourselves up for failure from the outset. Most of our problems didn’t come into full bloom in a day, a month or even a year but are the result of a long growing season, which eventually chokes out much of the good in our lives, or so it seems. Rebuilding trust and re-establishing self-control, more often than not, takes time and is done one step at a time. The prophet Zechariah, when recounting what an angel of the Lord said to him regarding the rebuilding of the Jewish temple, wrote this, “Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel (Zech 4:10).” Zerubbabel was the “project manager” and the angel was telling him that there will be rejoicing at the very sight of him measuring and plumbing the foundation, even before the first stone has been laid. Of course it’s only a beginning and a small one at that, but with time and discipline a great work will be accomplished.
Over the years I have learned from experience that it is often the small things that we do or say that have the greatest impact. It doesn’t take dramatic confession, profession or action to change the course of our lives or the life of someone else. What is most urgent is to begin to make the changes that will move us in the right direction. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a simple I’m sorry or really listening when we would rather turn away. Often, what we consider small or even insignificant can make all the difference to someone else. One thing we know for sure; it’s easier to make small changes than sweeping ones, and we are far more likely to keep on, keeping on, when we approach life and its challenges, one small step at a time. This will require patience and for some this is the greatest challenge. Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit available to instill in us all the patience we may need. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).”
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed and though it is the smallest of all the seeds, when it grows, it becomes the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree.” Matthew 13:31, 32