Rejoicing in the Small Things

The Bible has a lot to say about child-like faith, but I think we would all do well, too, to have a child-like appreciation for the little things in life.-2.png

I don’t know about you, but I tend to save my celebrations for the significant moments in life. The big promotion. The new baby. The summer vacation. The sizable financial donation. Big things. Good things. Things that make me want to praise the Lord, sing a song, and maybe even dance the jig (though I’ll admit it’s not pretty).

But this morning, the Lord reminded me that every moment on this earth is precious. Every person is a blessing. Every event is momentous. This revelation occurred on my morning prayer walk.

As I typically do, I passed by the Swamp Rabbit Cafe, which has a small play area for children. Except in harsh weather, the area is filled with parents and small children, climbing on the various equipment, riding small tricycles, or playing with their toys. Today was no different, but as I walk by, I noticed a little girl playing alone in the corner of the fenced area. At first, I felt bad for the young girl, fearing she was being shunned by the other children and even that she may be crying about her loneliness. But as I drew closer, I realized nothing could be farther from the truth.

This sweet child was jumping. Not jumping rope or jumping over obstacles. She wasn’t aiming for a target as far as I could tell. No, she was jumping for the sheer joy of it. Arms pumping as her little legs propelled her into the air. And with every landing, she giggled and shook her blonde curls. Then, she jumped again and again and again—each jump eliciting a joyous response.

As I walked, I marveled. This dear child was content.  Truly content. She didn’t need toys or equipment or fancy games to bring her happiness. Instead, she found joy in the simple act of jumping.

The more I walked, the more I realized how much I long to be like that little girl. I want to find joy in the little things. I want to make a big deal about all the good things in my life. The scale this morning said I'd lost a pound. Let’s celebrate! I received a $20 check in the mail yesterday for a survey I completed. Let the songs break forth. After several days of a very rough detox, I finally feel almost human again. Let’s do the Hokey Pokey (because honestly, that’s the only “dance” I know how to do.) But I think you get my meaning.

Why should we wait for the “big things” in life before we praise God or celebrate? Why don’t we recognize the many blessings we’ve been given, both big and small? Yes, as I thought about that precious child this morning, I wondered how much more I would enjoy life if I’d genuinely take time to appreciate it. Every minute. The sun on my face. The breeze through my hair. The colors of the sunset. The loving embrace of my husband. The nuzzles from my precious pooch. The ability to be, walk, and yes, even jump (though it may not be graceful).  

I’m reminded of the song, “Count Your Blessings,” but even more than that, I’m reminded that it’s more than just a song. It’s an essential ingredient for a joy-filled life. Sure, we can look around and find problems everywhere, but if we’d stop and count our blessings, we’d see they far outnumber the problems. The trouble is, we don’t notice all our blessings—only the “significant” ones. But, friend, that little girl reminded me this morning that every blessing is significant, and none of them should be taken for granted.

The Bible has a lot to say about child-like faith, but I think we would all do well, too, to have a child-like appreciation for the little things. We would all be much happier and much more content if we did.

 For who hath despised the day of small things?
— Zechariah 4:10a

Walking in Unfamiliar Territory

The Good News About Being Out of Your Comfort Zone.png

Barnabas loves to hike! It doesn’t matter if we’ve walked the same trail a hundred times; he acts like it’s a whole new experience. He runs and plays and wears himself out. And because he is so good at hiking off-leash, Jason and I can hike at our own pace. Barnabas knows his boundaries. He understands he is allowed to venture off the trail, run ahead, or lag behind as long as we are always in his sight. And Barnabas follows the rules better than any other dog we’ve had. He’ll run over to the side to study something and pop his head up every few seconds to be sure he can still see us. If we move far enough away that he loses track, he forsakes his current study and runs after us. He stops at every bend in the trail to ensure we’re never out of sight. Every hike is a pleasant experience for each of us, and we love that we can depend on him to be so cooperative. Despite his many quirks, he truly is a good dog!

When we took him out yesterday for some much-needed exercise, we did a portion of the trail we’ve only done once or twice with him, and we immediately noticed something. Because the path was unfamiliar to him, he stayed within ten feet of us at all times. He still explored and kept his own pace, but he never strayed too far from our presence. Once we reached the familiar portion of the trail, however, he let loose and did his own thing though still within the bounds of what he knows we expect of him. As we discussed his behavior, Jason made a comment that echoed the words of my prayer that morning. He said, “Yes, he stays close when in unfamiliar territory, but once he’s back in his comfort zone, he feels more comfortable to stray farther from us.”

During my prayer walk earlier that day, I had poured out my heart to the Lord about how far out of our comfort zones Jason and I felt lately. For me, I’m a creature of habit and routine, so the concept of being in a different church every week and always meeting new people is a bit overwhelming. For Jason, he is one who loves to be active and doing, so sitting at a desk for hours on end calling and emailing pastors and churches to book meetings is tiresome and tedious. We’ve both had to fight the temptation to say, “Let’s do something else today. Let’s do what we’re familiar with, what we’re comfortable with.” Some days, we have to make ourselves to what we know we need to do.

As I laid out my heart, a thought struck me, and I verbalized it to the Lord. “But maybe that’s the way you want it to be, Lord. Maybe you want us to be out of our comfort zones so we’ll stay close to You, so we’ll lean on You for strength and support. Maybe our time here is so we can learn to depend and trust on You more. So, Lord, please help us to keep this in mind when we get discouraged and want to quit. Remind us there’s a purpose for being in unfamiliar territory and give us the grace and strength to accept where we are.”

I guess we’re no different from Barnabas. When we’re in familiar territory, we tend to do our own thing and go our own way. Sure, we stay within sight of our Master, but are we really walking with Him? Once we’re out of our comfort zones, it’s an entirely different story. We stay close to the Master. We have to. We don’t know which way to go or what to do. We need His guidance. We crave His assurance. We depend on His knowledge and strength. Yes, in our uncertainty, we’re less likely to stray. And considering that—as difficult as it is for me to say—I thank God for removing us from our comfort zones. I praise Him for loving us enough to lead us through unfamiliar territory. The entire process serves as another reminder that what I think is good is not always what is best. Thankfully, God knows the difference!

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
— Psalm 37:23
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9
And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
— Joshua 3:3-4

God's People Lack Nothing

We may not have everything we want,but we certainly have everything we need.-2.png

Let’s continue our series about the negatives in the Bible.  I’m going to make a bold statement here, but I assure you it’s true. God’s people lack nothing. Sure, we may not have everything we want in life, but we have everything we need. The psalmist said it best in Psalm 23.  

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
— Psalm 23:1

But the psalms is not the only place we see this principle taught. In fact, it stretches through the entire Bible. Time after time, the Scriptures display God’s provision for His people. In impossible situations. Against all odds. God’s people weren’t left in need. Let’s look at some of these instances.

1) The children of Israel lacked nothing during their forty years in the wilderness. God provided food, water, shelter. As if that weren’t miraculous enough, He made certain their clothes and shoes held up and even that their feet didn’t swell from all the walking. Now that’s provision!

For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
— Deuteronomy 2:7
Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.
— Nehemiah 9:21

2) When the Amalekites invaded Ziklag and carried away all the women, children and goods, God allowed David and his men to recover everything.

And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.
— I Samuel 30:18-19

3) Because of Solomon’s kind heart, God blessed him and the kingdom of Israel, so they wanted for nothing. There wasn’t another kingdom like it in all the land.

And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon. And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.
— I Kings 4:25-27

4) When Jesus sent his disciples out two by two, He commanded that they shouldn’t take anything with them. Not a staff for protection or a coat for the cold. No food. No provisions. Nothing. And yet, all their needs were provided for, and they needed nothing.

And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
— Luke 22:35

Is that awesome or what? From the Old Testament to the New, we see account after account of God providing, and I’ve only skimmed the surface by pointing out some situations where the Bible specifically uses the word “nothing.” The principle itself is taught in nearly every book of the Bible. But what about now? Does God still provide for His people? Absolutely. The God of the Bible is the God of today, and He always ensures His people have all they need. For proof of that, we need only turn back to the book of Psalms.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
— Psalm 84:11

No good thing will He withhold. That’s a beautiful verse, and it’s also an important one in helping us to under how our ways are not God’s ways. He promised He would not withhold anything that is good, but that means the things that are good in His eyes, not ours. To me, a bulging bank account sounds pretty good, but God hasn’t seen fit to give me that, so it must mean that He doesn’t see that as good for me. Physical healing is a good thing, right? Maybe, or maybe God knows we’ll grow the most spiritually when we’re feeling poorly physically.  

I will admit, on more than one occasion, I have taken this verse to God as proof that He wasn’t living up to His promise.  

“God, you promised you wouldn’t withhold good from me, but I didn’t get the job I wanted.”

“God, you said right here you wouldn’t withhold good from those who walk uprightly. You know I am, but my life is such a mess right now. What’s up?”

Each time I point out the verse, God—in His grace—reminds me that we don’t always view things in the same light, and what I see as good may not be what I need. What I want, yes, but not what I need. And like the loving Father He is, God cares for us too much to give us everything we want, especially when He knows those wants will harm us. Instead, He gives us good gifts, and often only He understands how precious those gifts genuinely are.

God’s people lack nothing. Not in Bible times. Not today. God cares for His people, and He cares for You. Trust Him today even if your lot in life is not what you planned, expected, or asked for. God has a plan, and He means it for good. Take comfort in that.