Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sneaking in the Blessing

Advent is a time of year of big miracles wrapped in tiny packages. It is a time of finding the blessing in the least expected of places. It is a time for practicing what Mother Teresa said -- "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

Today it seems like everyone is only interested in the next big thing. Our houses get bigger. Our cars get bigger (please tell me why someone other than a soldier needs to drive a Hummer?) Our plans, hopes and goals get bigger and bigger.

And while my God is a BIG God, it never ceases to amaze me how He works in small ways. Seemingly insignificant ways. The kind of ways that if you blink, it's quite likely you will miss them. It's not to say that He doesn't work in the big ways too, for He certainly does, but I think some of His best gifts are the small ones.

Look at God's gift of the Messiah to the world. He could have made that quite the show. Lit up the skies with fireworks, scores of angels singing, trumpets blaring, clouds parting as Christ strode onto the scene blazing like fire, so radiant people would have had to shield their eyes.

Instead He sent a tiny baby. Born to two insignificant teenagers. In a lowly village that nobody thought much of. That was how God announced His greatest gift to mankind. Quietly. Humbly. Without fanfare. Without panache.

In fact, it's almost as though God tried to sneak him into the world. Undetected. I suppose that's the only way Christ could have ever understood what it means to truly be human. Despite his proclamations that he was the son of God, nobody believed him, I mean, really believed him. Even those closest to him showed by their actions after his death that they thought he was gone forever. Had he come with fanfare right from the beginning, the story would have been quite different, and Christ would never had the chance to experience what it means to take on human flesh, with all of its struggles, temptations, doubts and worry.

I like the idea of God sneaking His greatest gift into the world, initially revealing His intentions only to the lowly shepherds and an obscure group of foreigners from the east. I think it's this same thing that I love about my job as a storyteller -- the ability to sneak meaning into someone's life. Each story contains its own kernel of truth, and I don't have to say, "And the moral of the story is. . ." for each person to discover it. Somehow the story sneaks it's way in to the listener's heart, meeting them right where they are.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to say that God is sneaky or deceptive. He's not. His intention for all mankind to know Christ is clear. Only He didn't go about it in the most obvious of manners. He started small. Very small. You couldn't have gone much smaller if you'd tried.

Today I see so many people, myself including, waiting for the big things or else thinking that what I do needs to have a big impact. And yet, big things always start small. And if we are so busy waiting on big, we miss out on seeing all the good small things we can do. All the small ways we can experience God. And when we make room for the small things, somehow it's as if our hearts grow bigger.

It reminds me of the Grinch and his heart that was "two sizes too small." Until he met little Cindy Lou Who. And almost against his will he opened his heart to this one little child, not to all of Whoville but just to her. And once he let her in, it was almost as if a snowball effect occurred, and he couldn't help but let in the others, and all of a sudden his heart grew three sizes that day.

Our God is a God of the big things, but He is also a God of the small things. If He knows every hair on our head, every tear that we cry, how could He not be? When I get bogged down by the "big picture," the best thing I can do is stop and look at the small picture. See the smile of one of the children at my church and hold their small hand. Admire and laugh at the way my dog's ears stand on end. Lay my head on my husband's chest at night and hear his heart beating and feel the rhythm of his breath.

God has blessed me with many small things, tucking meaning into each and every one. But how easily I miss the majesty and marvel of it, consumed as I am by the big things. He is also given me many small things to do. And if I could get my mind off of the big things I want to do and just start doing the small ones He wants me to do, maybe He could accomplish infinitely more than all I could ask for or imagine. And maybe, just maybe He would sneak so much joy into my life that my heart would grow three sizes.

"But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you. . ." (Micah 5:2)

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