I recently gave a speech at my Toastmasters club meeting which I had entitled “Dream Small. My main project goal was to inspire the audience, and with a title like ‘dream small’ I think I had many of them wondering if I was speaking from the correct project. A minute or so into my speech the audience had a much clearer understanding, and I would like to share that with you.
The whole idea of the speech and its title is simply the fact that it is the little things in life that usually make a big difference. I think most of us know this to be true, but we still get so caught up setting these high and lofty goals that we oftentimes ignore the “smaller” and more important things in our life. As a result, it is possible that relationships with others and our own peace and joy will suffer.
In my speech I used the example of the life of John McCain, the Senator from Arizona who had just recently passed away. By all accounts the life of John McCain was full of “big things.” From his days as a POW in Vietnam to his decades of service in the U.S. government, he had an impact on many people’s lives. As I thought about his life and death, I began to think more about his friends and family and those people who knew him best. I believe that in the weeks and months after his death, it will likely be many of those “small” moments that will stand out most for them. Whether it was the late night phone calls to his wife to say goodnight, the last minute flight back home to see his child’s school event, or the extra ten minutes he took mentoring his intern, it is these small and unseen acts that will likely have the most lasting impact on those who knew him best.
The idea of dreaming small can and should be recognized in both our personal and professional life. We all know that big things have small beginnings. If a one thousand mile trek begins with just a step, and a great building is built one brick at a time, why should we believe that greatness in our own lives should not begin small.
I believe we would also do well to remember that it was a lowly shepherd boy who slayed a giant, five loaves and two fish fed five thousand, and it is the tiny mustard seed that outgrows all the other garden plants. Biblical examples of small beginnings can literally go on and on there are so many.
So how about you? Do you need to make any adjustments in your own life?
I challenge you to begin looking at the “small things” in your life a little differently, and recognize and accept that this is right where God needs you to be today.
When most of us think about God we probably assign Him names like Father, creator, provider, shepherd, friend, judge, or a host of other descriptive names for Him. What about partner? Do you think God would ever want to partner with you? Of course He would, that is a part of His plan and purpose for us.
God wants to involve you in a part of His overarching plan for humanity. Think about it. In scripture, we see that God constantly uses regular men and women like you and I to literally change the course of history and to fulfill His plans.
In the Old Testament, people like Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Elijah, and many others performed mighty works with God, simply because they were willing. Some of them were quite hesitant, and definitely not perfect, but nonetheless God’s plans were ultimately fulfilled by partnering with them.
We know that in the New Testament Jesus does the same thing. Calling men and women from every walk of life to perform duties and be a partner with Him. We really should not be too surprised by this because we know that God is all about relationships.
A while back I heard a teacher speaking about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, but unlike times before, he focused more on what happened after Lazarus had been risen. After Jesus cried with a loud voice “Lazarus, come forth,” He told the witnesses to “unbind him, and let him go.” He is literally telling the people there to partner with Him and help in finishing the work. I feel like Jesus is saying to all of us “come on, get in there and get your hands dirty. This is great work that is being done. It is Kingdom work, eternal work.”
What if you were one of the witnesses to this event. Would you be in disbelief over this miracle? Would you be scared? Would your first instinct be to say, “let others unbind him?” This is natural in many ways. Remember, as I stated earlier, many of the men and women from the Bible were hesitant and scared to “partner” with God. Thoughts of failure, or thoughts and feelings of not being good enough are bound to creep in. That is why it is so important to remember that God always honors our faith and our efforts.
With so many distractions in our life, it is so important for followers of Christ to remember what the Christian life is all about. At the core, I believe it is all about loving people. Is this easy? No, in fact loving people is many times very difficult. Sometimes it requires great sacrifice on our part, besides the fact that many people can be quite unlovable. We can’t do it on our own, but with Christ dwelling inside of us we can.
Remember, to partner with God is a great honor. And when you make a conscious choice to follow Him and make every effort to live in His will, you will experience more peace and happiness in your own life.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23 NASB).
When I read this awesome prayer written by King David, I read it as a confident statement of faith. I believe it can be a very powerful statement of faith for all of us. When I further meditate upon the 23rd Psalm, it becomes so much more.
Can you visualize it? Can’t you see Jesus as ‘your’ Divine Shepherd? Walking along the path of life with you and guiding you every step of the way. Isn’t it comforting to visualize this?
I believe we can all get a better understanding of the fullness of Psalm 23 if we look at it from both David’s perspective as well as the sheep’s.
First of all, we know that sheep are not the most intelligent animal. With their heads down and a main interest on food, they tend to get off track and lost easily. Sound familiar? We also know they are quite vulnerable to many different predators while out in the field. The sheep are truly dependent upon a good a faithful shepherd whose voice is recognized by the sheep. This is where David comes into play.
David’s job as a shepherd was quite lowly and not highly respected back in their culture. However, it was his responsibility to tend to all the sheep and make sure they were protected and cared for. He knew exactly what it meant to be a ‘good shepherd’. It required a tireless and faithful attitude towards each and everyone of those sheep. That meant he could not even lose one.
I am quite sure that he got bored out there in the field with the sheep. In fact, I am sure he even hated his job at times. Maybe it was in this boredom that he was able to perfect his skill with a sling and stones, which we know later came in handy and even led to his becoming the King of Israel.
David was surely not a perfect man. In fact, we all know about his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and then the murder of her husband. So what was it that would cause God to say that David was a “man after my own heart.” I believe that at least in part it goes back to all that time David spent as a shepherd as a boy and young man. David not only provided the necessities to the sheep, like food, water, and protection, but he also provided them with a loving guidance that required discipline at times, and even a willingness to lay down his own life for their safety. And David did all of this with absolute faithfulness.
With our many faults, we are a lot like David in some respects. But the question is, do we really have a heart after God and His purposes? Do we have a strong desire to be faithful with what God has already given us, or the position that He has placed us in? Our answers to these questions are extremely important. God may not be leading you into a place of great power and influence like David, but I believe He is leading you to much higher places. Maybe your ‘higher place’ is becoming a better parent. Maybe it is coming alongside a co-worker who is in desperate need of a friend. Maybe it is accepting that promotion which requires you to move. No matter what it is, we can be sure that God is faithfully leading and guiding us through both the mountains and the valleys.
Like the sheep, we must learn to recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice at all times, and to trust His leading. And like David, we must be willing to choose a servant’s heart. One that is ready and willing to be faithful to our calling.
In all of this, we can be confident that we can never be plucked out of the Divine Shepherd’s hands, and that we will “live in the house of the Lord forever.”