My life, the ministry we are giving our lives to, every good thing has come from a small, obscure, even unimportant place. It’s been one little yes in the dark after another… each one guiding me to where I am today. Maybe that’s why I identify with Nancy’s words today. I hope you will, too.
Guest Post by Nancy Ortberg, author of Seeing In the Dark
Have you ever done any kind of remodeling job? A car, a room, a house? To be sure, there are points of excitement in these projects. When you first get the idea, imagining what the improvement will be. Perhaps drawing out the plans or putting on the first coat of paint.
But the plumb line? Nope. No reason for excitement there. It is a small moment in the overall scheme of rebuilding. It’s important, of course. The plumb line does vertically what a level does horizontally. It makes sure things are straight. No question this is important. But it’s not worth throwing a party over.
But God told his people to rejoice at the sight of Zerubbabel when he showed up with a plumb line in his hand. The verse right before this one helps us understand: “Who despises the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10).
We want big things. God is a big God. But here, in the small and quiet of a plumb line, he is working again. At a point at which we might miss his presence, he reminds his people to rejoice. This small moment is a big sign that God is at work.
Do not scorn this moment as unimportant. Do not show contempt for it being “less than.” Do not disdain it or look down on it, for it is a sure sign that the work has started.
Small, God says, is not unimportant. It is the very building block of important. It’s how important is created. It’s when a man whose ex-wife poisons every conversation she can to anyone she can chooses a civil response to her. It’s small; it doesn’t win the battle against her. But it is moving his soul in the right direction. It’s when a student, anxious about a test, studies and prays, forgoing the unethical means others around him are using to prepare for the test. Making that small decision sets his choice-making on a course for integrity. It’s just a moment, but it’s a good one.
It’s the stuff a great life is made of. A woman on her way to work leaves just a few minutes early so as not to rush. This enables her, when she has to stop for an elderly pedestrian, to move not to exasperation, but to peace. That small moment ushers in the Kingdom of God as much as any sermon we will ever hear.
It is not negligible; it is hope. It is not worthless, meaningless, or unimportant. Rather, it is the starting gate going up. It is the celebration of the race begun, and we are a part of it. It is a small thing, in which all things are possible. The Kingdom of God leaking out into the world.
Thank you Tyndale Publishers for partnering with me to share this devotional today.
Nancy Ortberg is the Director of Leadership Development at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, in Northern California, and the author of Seeing in the Dark: Finding God’s Light in the Most Unexpected Places and Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands, Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership. A highly sought-after speaker, Nancy has been a featured presenter at the Catalyst and Orange conferences, and has been a regular contributor to Rev! Magazine. She and her husband, John, live in the Bay Area and have three grown children: Laura, Mallory, and Johnny. Connect with Nancy on Twitter and Facebook.
In her much anticipated follow-up to Looking for God, Nancy Ortberg takes readers on a journey that began thousands of years ago. From an ancient cave in Turkey to the California coast, Nancy highlights the often unexpected, sometimes imperceptible, yet always extraordinary means God uses to light our way through even the most painful and challenging moments in life.