Society: Thinking Big vs. Acting Faithfully

Martin Luther King had no idea when he began the bus boycott in Montgomery in 1956 that it would be anything more than a local response to a local grievance. By acting in small things with very partial knowledge, characters enlarge their stories and discover both who they are and what their lives can mean.

~ Tell me a Story, Daniel Taylor, Bog Walk Press, 2001. Pg. 73.

I think it was Mother Theresa who said that, “there are no great works, only small works done with great love.” If that is true (and it has the ring of truth) then the motive for the things we do is as important as the thing itself, probably more.

I often sit in a state of indecision wondering what I should do next. My hesitance is nearly always a matter of whether the things on my possibility list are important or significant. If they aren’t “important enough” then I presume that I will be wasting my time—my valuable time. Indeed. Is my time that valuable? Do the things that I do make my time more or less valuable? Or is it my reason for doing them what makes the things on my possibility list important?

What if Dr. King had felt the boycott in Montgomery wasn’t important enough for him to give his time to? Nobody can second-guess history. We can’t say whether the movement for equality would have stalled or slowed, but that isn’t the point. The point is that a local grievance and a response to it shaped the destiny of a generation of Americans, both black and white. Small beginnings shaped the nation. A small-town act gave momentum to a world shaping movement.

As I think of these things I realize that motives are key to determining what I do. Do I do something because it is important or because it is right to do it? Perhaps part of our preparation for the Kingdom is for us to stay focused on the things at hand, the little things.

The other day my grandson, going on three, was over. I watched him move through his world. I wondered what it would be like if I could see what he was seeing. I watched as he considered the treetops and then, in an almost instant change of focus, watched him narrow his view of the world to take in the adventure that was unfolding on the top step of the porch—an earnest insect making its way across the boards. There was so much to see in a few square inches! I joined him in the looking—two monstrous heads now filled the ant-sky. If not for the sudden fascination of a small boy I would have missed the adventure.

This is a skill that three-year-olds have and one that I am going to have to relearn here between the worlds. Thinking big isn’t as important as faithful doing. The outcome belongs to God.

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