Anyone who thinks little things shouldn’t bother you has never been in a tent with one “little” mosquito, or has never had a “little” piece of gravel in their shoe, or a “tiny little” wood sliver in their thumb, or a “speck” of sawdust in their eye or a “little” paper cut on their finger! Remember the story of “The Princess and the Pea,” a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen in which a young lady, drenched from the rain, showed up at the palace and claimed to be a princess. To test her claim to royalty, she was invited to stay overnight. Unknown to the supposed princess, a pea was placed under 20 mattresses and feather beds to see if she had the physical sensitivity of royalty. The next morning she complained of being unable to sleep because of something hard in her bed!
Or, consider the tragic story of Korean Airlines flight 007 that was shot down over Soviet territory on Sept.1,1983, leading to increased tensions between America and the USSR. Flight 007 was on the last leg of a flight from New York City to Seoul, South Korea, with a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska. When the commercial jet left Anchorage, the flight computer compass was off 1.5 degrees. The “slight” discrepancy didn’t make much difference for the first few miles, but the further the flight got from Anchorage, the greater the error became and by the time it was nearing its intended destination, KAL 007 was more than two hundred miles off course and ended up in Russian air space. Soviet jet fighters were scrambled to intercept the Korean Airliner. They tried unsuccessfully to make contact with the passenger jet. Failing to receive a response, one of the fighters fired a heat-seeing missile. KAL 007 was hit and plummeted into the Sea of Japan, killing all 269 passengers and crew—all because of a mere compass error of “just” 1.5 degrees.
Little things can make a big difference, but not just in a negative way, also in a very positive way. Remember the boy’s “little” lunch that ended up feeding thousands of people (once place in the hands of Jesus) with 12 baskets of leftovers (Jn. 6:1-13)? Remember “little” David, the shepherd boy, who took on Goliath, the Philistine giant. David was probably barely more than 5 feet tall and Goliath was around 9’ 9” tall (probably weighing 500 lbs.) and armed to the hilt (I Sam. 17:4-7). His armor and weapons weighed more than “little” David, who only had a sling and five “little” stones. The Philistine giant said to David, “ ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.’ Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you…’” (I Sam. 17:44-46).
And don’t forget the amazing story of Gideon who started out with 32,000 soldiers to go against 135,000 Midianites. The odds were more than 4-1! But God reduced Gideon’s band of men down to 10,000. Now the odds were 13 1/2 to 1 against the Israelites, but God said, “That’s still too many,” and reduced Gideon’s army down to 300—that’s 450-1 odds! God said, “Just right!” Maybe it was because the Israelites had some secret weapons. Well, do trumpets and pitchers and torches count? But it worked (Judges 7:1-8:10), for “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31).
King Hezekiah and Israel faced the hordes of wicked, ruthless Assyrian soldiers under King Sennacherib who were coming against Jerusalem. After doing what he could to prepare for the attack, King Hezekiah spoke to the people, saying, “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria, nor because of all the multitude which is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles…” (II Chr. 32:7,8).
When Ezra and Zerubbabel returned from captivity and organized the rebuilding of the temple which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 596 B.C., there were some who complained that it was not nearly as big and beautiful as Solomon’s temple (Ezra 3:12,13; Hag. 2:3). The LORD, speaking through Joshua, the high priest, said: “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zech. 4:10).
Small things can make a big difference. I recently planted some tomatoes seeds to get a head start for our garden, seeing as how we still have a foot of snow or more (got 4 more inches today) covering our garden spot! The tomato seed is really small, but when it germinates and the plant matures it will produce many pounds of yummy tomatoes. Jesus, remember, spoke of having the faith of a tiny mustard seed and you can move mountains (Mt. 17:20).
This past Friday was the funeral service to honor the life of Billy Graham, whom God used in a mighty way to reach millions of people with the Gospel of Christ. Sometimes as we consider the “giants” of the faith who had such big impacts for the Kingdom of God, we think, “What can I do? I’m no Apostle Paul or Billy Graham.” But, remember God can use “little” things to make a big difference. That might mean a kind word spoken to someone who is having a bad day. It might mean sending a card or note to someone who is hurting or to someone who has blessed your life. It might mean taking a plate of cookies to someone who has moved into the neighborhood. It might mean befriending someone new in church or new in the community. It might mean visiting someone in the care center who is lonely, who maybe doesn’t have family around. Remember, Jesus said, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mk. 9:41). Remember, “Little is much when God is in it!”
One of the men who attends the men’s Bible study that I teach, shared this poem (called “My Daily Prayer”…source unknown) with our group, one he has made the goal for each day. It is a good one for all of us, knowing that little things can make a big difference:
If I can do some good today,
If I can serve along life’s way,
If I can something helpful say,
Lord, show me how.
If I can right a human wrong,
If I can help to make one strong,
If I can cheer with a smile or song,
Lord, show me how.
If I can aid one in distress,
If I can make a burden less,
If I can spread more happiness,
Lord, show me how.