The Joy of Dreaming Small

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, NIV)

Jesus spoke these startling words at his last meal with his disciples, before his arrest and crucifixion. This week as we remember his life and death, it is natural to reflect on how we can live as his disciples in our time. 

What does it look like to follow in his footsteps? Can we really do great things for Jesus? I often wonder if my daily paths are too narrow for me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

That’s why my pace quickened a bit on a recent afternoon as I walked from the mailbox into our house. 

Along with the usual business envelopes bearing preprinted labels was one letter hand addressed to me. My heart felt a little lighter as I opened it and read words describing a way I had encouraged the sender’s family. 

As I held the card, I thought of a meal I had delivered two weeks earlier to a family with a new baby. A smile had brightened the young mom’s face as she told me, “This came at just the right time for us.” 

A sense of contentment filled me. Moments like this have confirmed my hard-won belief that spending my energies on simple acts of service and kindness has great worth.

Yes, it runs counter to our culture’s admonition to “Dream big and reach for the stars.”  But I am at peace with the fact that I will not lead an organization of thousands or even hundreds, win humanitarian awards, or do anything else that will make me a household name. 

My call is to impact handfuls, not pack arenas.

And you know what? I find something precious in this “call to the small”.  Maybe you have discovered it too. In fact, I believe it reflects the heart of our Savior. As I study his life, his personal encounters with the hurting are as powerful as the messages he shared with masses on the hillsides and in the temple courts.

Jesus did not need to touch people or even be present with them to heal them. A paralyzed man rose and walked by the power of Jesus’ words; a centurion’s servant was healed from a distance. Yet as I read Matthew 8 and 9, the common threads of touch and personal conversations are woven through the accounts of several healings, revealing how Jesus paired compassion with his divine power. 

He not only touched the hand of Simon Peter’s fevered mother-in-law, he touched a man with leprosy.  On the way to care for a prominent family, he took time to share brief but loving words with a woman who had suffered physically for years. He took a young girl by the hand to rouse her from death, and blind men’s eyes were opened by Jesus’ touch. 

What must it have felt like to hear the tenderness in his words, and feel his gentle touch?

 After years of pain and isolation, to be seen and personally cared for?

 His actions communicated the worth he placed on individuals. This explains why people of all kinds adored him: fishermen and tax collectors, a synagogue ruler and a centurion, even some religious leaders like Nicodemus.

 This care for the one, in the midst of the many, is my heartbeat.

What’s so thrilling about this way of living? 

 It’s the realization that Kingdom work is available right here and right now, for me and for you! Loving the souls God places within our reach fits every life situation, no matter how small that reach seems to be.

 You and I don’t have to wait to gain a following or get our “big break.” Jesus’ love can shine through us in any location and every life season. Our gifting and passions, our connections and experience allow us to serve in ways tailor-made to us. We get the joy of building relationships, and watching people grow and thrive. 

 We can never know all that is going on in others’ lives and hearts, or what a simple act of kindness may mean to them. So we simply scatter seeds of love, trusting that some will take root in hearts that need encouragement or comfort.

 As I have wrestled with this different view of what it means to “do great things”, I stumbled upon a wonderful song by Josh Wilson titled Dream Small. His lyrics have meant so much to me that I share a few here, in the hopes that they will empower you too.

             

“It’s visiting the widow down the street

Or dancing on a Friday with your friend with special needs

These simple moments change the world…

            Add up the small things and watch them grow bigger

The God who does all things makes oceans from rivers.”

 

Friends, let’s take joy in the small ways we serve and love others. Jesus can use them greatly!