When My Small Self Wants to Do Big Things (But Only God Can)
- July 12, 2018
- Rachel Dawson
I’ve always been bothered by the idea of smallness.
I’ve heard people pray that the Lord would keep them small. I heard a song on my local Christian radio station with a chorus about dreaming small. I’ve seen dozens of people praise the notion of starting small, taking small steps, making small moves.
But something within me resists staying small.
You see, I’m a feeler. A highly sensitive person. Empathy is my #2 strength according to Strengths Finder, and all that means is that I’m quick to take everybody else’s things onto myself. The news is hard for me, because I am broken by every new tragedy, burdened by every breaking headline, crushed by the weight of all that is wrong with the world.
I want to fix everything. I want to heal all the hurt. I want to create world peace. I want every orphan to become part of a family. I want every child ripped from their parents at the border to be reunited with the ones that love them. I want every black boy to live until they are old and gray, not die young because of guns. I want our planet to be healthy and thriving, not affected by global warming, overcrowding, and pollution. I want thousands of families to open their homes to foster care and adoption. I want homelessness to end. I want joblessness to end. I want natural disasters to stop. I want abortion to cease and miscarriages to never happen and death to be gone.
I want big things.
And so something within me resists being small.
What do you mean, I can’t fix everything?
Why can’t I try to heal all the hurt?
Why can’t peace be real on earth?
I want to do big things.
I am so small. My hands can only hold so much. My heart, too, can only hold so much. My resources are limited– time, money, energy, capability. My platform isn’t massive. I don’t have a spotlight shining on me, or a talk show, or a stage, or a microphone.
I cannot do all the big things my bleeding, broken, justice-loving, Jesus-following heart wants to do. I am small.
But God is big.
This is what I’m learning right now, in the thick of tragedy after tragedy in these trying and troubling times. I am not God of my life. I am not God of the world. God is God, and he is good, and he is good at being God.
I cannot do all the big things, but he can. I do not need to be God. I cannot be God! And yet, God has called me to play a very specific role in this world, in my community, in my family.
I believe God is calling me, calling all of us, to do small things. I think we are most effective when we start small. I don’t think we should despise small beginnings, or small progress, or small steps forward. I don’t think we should resist them, as much as I’m prone to doing so. I think we should lean into them joyfully, intentionally, and prayerfully.
I think instead of being overwhelmed by all the brokenness in the whole world around us, we should look to our left and to our right and see what’s right near us that we can help fix. I think instead of feeling devastated by all the hungry children around the world, we should volunteer at our local food bank to serve the hungry in our neighborhoods. I think we should smile at the homeless man on the corners we drive by on our commutes, and strike up friendly conversations, and ask what food they’d like from the nearest restaurant, and bring them a cold drink on a hot day. I think we should mow our neighbor’s lawn when we are mowing our own, and high five the kids we pass on the sidewalks, and hold the door for the person coming behind us, and take a meal to someone who could use some encouragement. I think we should support our friends who are going on mission trips and serving around the world, whether we can do so with our money or our prayer.
I could list a million more small steps, but I think the point is this: the small stuff matters. It does. It adds up. We start by doing one small thing, and then we keep doing small things, and they turn into big things, and the effect starts to ripple out and make a difference and the impact is far greater than we could have ever imagined.
We are not God. We cannot do all the big things. But we can do a small thing. And then another. And another. And all of us doing our small things in our corners of the world will start to make a big difference in our friend groups, our neighborhoods, our cities, our churches, our nation, our world.
We will be building the Kingdom on earth, brick by brick, with our small hands, glorifying the good, big God who has this whole world in his own mighty hands.