Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do Not Despise the Small Things

            Something is happening online - maybe it’s been happening for years, and I’m just noticing it. I’ve seen the incredibly styled living rooms in blogs, the magazine-worthy kids’ rooms, and the trends for vintage kitchen collectables that cause bloggers to amass shelves-full, before moving on to the next thing. Have you, too, noticed the collections, the perfectly staged meals and gatherings – perhaps outdoors, perhaps featuring mason jars? I've only recently learned about the video - families promoting themselves and their children, sometimes on their own channels, sometimes noting fantastic accomplishments in cute song.

            Here’s the thing - the thing that’s made me increasingly uncomfortable with blogging and with what I read and see on many blogs. What we see here, online, isn’t real – at least not the whole story. It’s a snippet, taken with someone’s excellent camera, often edited, and framed in the most favorable light. I have worried, in the past, that someone might idealize the little bits I’ve share here, not seeing the sock-strewn kids’ rooms that will NEVER make it into blog-land, or the days without makeup or cleanup or much that looks productive from the outside. We see the shiny online, and by comparison, our lives look messy and unstylish and disorganized, and we can get the feeling that we’re the only ones who don’t have it all together.

            If your house isn’t perfect, and you and your children aren’t video stars and your dinner wasn’t organic last night, and you are a little bit discouraged, might you stop, and think about this verse with me?

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’ …For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” (Zech. 4:6-7,10)

            Zerubbabel, discouraged at being unable to complete the temple of God due to persecution by neighbors, is encouraged here. The hard work won’t be done by his own power or might, but through God’s spirit. The little things – those small beginnings Zerubbabel thought insufficient – were the start that God would use.

            I am surrounded by little things, small beginnings, things that feel half-done sometimes – schoolwork, housework, discipline and prayerfully helping children navigate through disagreements. Some things feel more formed than others. There are devotionals each morning, read, tea in hand, with my old-lady glasses perched on my nose. Sometimes boys contribute, but sometimes two elbow and mumble and need to be prodded along. It is a beginning, and there are glimmers when a quiet boy shares insight he’s stored in his young heart or an older one shares deep wisdom. There is music in the mornings, led by boys. This had a very small beginning, years ago, when one boy began taking guitar lessons and was encouraged to lead us in worship. Another boy joined in, the repertoire grew, and we are blessed with music as we open most days. There is negotiation over songs between two brothers, and sometimes frustration, but it is a beautiful beginning.

            There are countless meals and dishes and garments to fold – this seemingly endless service, this showing of love that is hopefully a lesson in nurture for young men (and young woman) who prepare to launch out into the world. There are glimmers when a boy serves his mama a bowl of soup, unsolicited, a daughter leads the troops in card-making and shopping for mom, and a son makes the dinner while we’re out at an appointment. There are children working out their own conflicts using skills they’ve learned, games by the fire, walks together through the snow, hearts shared. These are small things, small beginnings, little things not to be despised, adding up to a life worth living and worth loving, even if it isn’t video worthy.

            Look at your small things, mamas – look for them. They are many. You are sowing seeds and investing in lives – investing in eternity. Beware, because even these families we love and live for can become idols, if we forget why and for whom we’re doing this (this is not condemnation of anyone else, but my own, very real, experience). My living room will not win any blogging awards, I have no major accomplishments to report, and I don't think I’m video-worthy in my jammies. But I want to pause for a moment this Advent season, to ponder and give thanks for the little things, the small beginnings, as we ready to celebrate the coming of our great King Jesus as a little one Himself. Those small things - they are not to be despised.
Trusting in Him,

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