The Power of Little Things
This week we had a Japanese friend come for a visit. We hadn’t seen her for five years. She is traveling around the world for six months to visit friends who have made a difference in her life while she is contemplating the next step for her. She came to say thank you. She told me the story of why…
In 2006 I was in the US for a gathering of college students interested in making a difference in the world. I attended and each day wore traditional Arab garb – a dishdasha and hatta wa gaal – and told people about opportunities to visit the Middle East. She didn’t want to talk to me. She wasn’t interested in the Middle East or being in a country with Muslims.
But…we ended up talking. She was finishing her training as an OB/GYN doctor. I told her about my wife and the work she did with Iraqi refugees…I shared with her about the Arab world. She sensed her heart was changing – softening – but she wasn’t sure she needed to do anything about it until a postcard arrived. It was a simple note I’d written to tell her how much I’d enjoyed meeting her and that I would be praying for her. I invited her to come visit us in Jordan. In Japan, a handwritten note is extremely precious (I had no idea! I wrote a note to everyone I met!). She took this very seriously as a sign from God. He was trying to tell her something…
A year later she came to visit us in Jordan. During her time there, she saw the Arab world in a whole different light. It opened her eyes, and her heart, to Muslims. When she returned to Japan, she began looking into ways to return to the Muslim world to serve the poor and the needy. She ended up in another country, but she lived there for several years loving the people and serving them with her skills as a doctor.
So…here was our friend…six years after I’d met her sitting in our family room in the US telling us how God had used a brief conversation and a postcard to change her life. She had come to say thank you.
Ultimately, this story is not about me and I don’t share it to impress you. I am deeply humbled and convicted by it. Humbled because I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I was just doing what I was supposed to. But God took my obedience and my availability and used it for something bigger. I had no way of knowing how! I fell humbled because I know there are so many people God has used in the same way in my life. There are so many others who have been faithful and available and obedient and I’m not the same because of them.
And I am convicted. Convicted because I know that I haven’t taken the time to thank the myriad of people who have made the difference in my life. I haven’t made the effort to let most of them know they’re simple acts of kindness that meant nothing special to them were incredibly important to me. Too many of them I can’t even remember. I’m also convicted because I know there have been times God wanted me to be available and to be obedient and to offer kindness…and I didn’t. I was tired. I didn’t think it would matter. I didn’t think my little act would make a difference. So I didn’t obey. I wasn’t available.
The power of little things in the hands of the Holy Spirit never ceases to amaze me. This story is all of our stories. It’s a challenge to us to be loving and kind, available and obedient even when it seems small and insignificant. It’s an encouragement to us that when we live by faith with our hearts willing to serve and to give God will take our acts – even the smallest – and use them in ways we cannot imagine. We may never know how he uses them in others’ loves or in our own. But when we offer them we can be sure that he is a God, a loving Father, who doesn’t waste anything and doesn’t miss anything.
May our lives exhibit the presence and power of God in our living faithfully and obediently in the little things. And may we be the kind of people who go out of our way to thank others for the little things they do that make a big impact in our lives.