For who has despised the day of small things?
As a young child, I day dreamed about becoming big things kind of girl. I had big plans for a career as either a television star or a princess. Therefore, I focused on the big things like dramatic poses and tiaras rather than little things like learning to tie my shoes. Or telling time. Or making letters like b and d point the right way. Or memorizing math facts. Eventually, my parents and teachers made life miserable until I learned convinced me to pay attention to little things.
But I remained a big things kind of girl at heart for many years. Even after I became a Christian and started reading the Bible. I preferred the big, showy stories – Moses parting the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Jesus feeding the five thousand – to hidden, quiet events like Moses in the bull rushes, Ruth gleaning grain, or the long drudgery of rebuilding the temple in Zechariah’s day.
I remained a sucker for bright lights and big things until two babies entered our home six years apart. When they arrived, life became a river of small things. Tiny fingernails to clip. Itty bitty diapers. Minuscule onesies. Little bodies asleep in my arms. The first tiny hints of toothless smiles.
Slowly, my attitude about material things began to change. The arrivals of these little people made the sacrifices – buying a minivan, sleepless nights, spit up stains ruining expensive clothes, fun money diverted for college savings accounts and day care providers – worthwhile.
My spiritual attitude began changing, too. When I bathed our babies, I imagined Mary bathing her son. Wiping his nose. Drying his tears. Hugging his small body, holding him close, caring for her little boy. I imagined Jesus, God’s Son, beginning his life as the smallest and most inconsequential of small things. A baby born in a barn. Yet that baby grew up to do big things. He lived a perfect life. He healed hurting people. He fed the five thousand. He died on a cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. All to reconcile small and petty sinners to the eternal, omnipotent God.
My children are grown. I haven’t bathed a baby in years. But as the shadow of the cross grows large in the days before Easter, my thoughts turn to the babe in the manger. The hope of a fallen world contained in a small package. The baby who guides sinners to the foot of the cross.
My God works through small things. He uses the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. He uses small things like us to demonstrate our need for the great gift of His Son. At the foot of the cross, kneeling before the manger, I am finally content with small things.