Sometimes it’s easy to forget the little things.
Everywhere we look, focus tends to rest on the big things in life. To use examples of big, good things, we notice the million-dollar donations. The lives that were saved during a natural disaster. The miracles.
And rightly so – these things deserve to be noticed and celebrated. Our God is one of unfathomable power and majesty, and He works in incredible, huge ways every day.
But He’s also in control of the little things too.
The rain on a dry day. The encouraging note you lost and then found again just when you needed it. The smile from a stranger when you were nervous and feeling out of place.
If I had to sum up what I’ve learned most about God in my life so far, it’s that He’s not just a God of the big things – but of the little things too. He’s in control of every detail of our lives. Even when we don’t feel Him working, He is, and sooner or later, we’ll see those effects. We’ll feel His peace and experience His blessings.
We may not recognize those things as being from Him at first, but they are. Every good thing is from Him. And every bad thing can be redeemed by Him for good purposes.
My testimony is not a dramatic one. I grew up in a close, loving, and Christian family that started teaching me about Jesus and what it means to follow Him before I can remember. When I was four years old, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, on the same day that my older brother accepted Him. And that was that.
No dark background. No crumbling of walls and beliefs and opposition. No life falling apart until I finally realized that God was the only one I needed.
Just the facts – that Jesus, the Son of God, loved me enough to die for me, therefore cleansing me of my sins and allowing me to spend eternity with Him if I accepted His gift of salvation – and the earnestness of a child that wanted so badly to be with Him forever.
Simple, painless, and joyful.
I’m not proud of this, but for a while growing up, I was tempted to think the fact that I came to Christ so young was “cool” (as if one’s age affects anything about the salvation process). But as I aged, insecurities and doubts started to creep in. Not about God, but about my ‘testimony’, and the age I was saved at.
What if I wasn’t sincere? Though I remember the time and place, I don’t remember how I felt in that moment. What if I was just caught up in the emotion of my brother accepting Christ? Was I truly honest when I gave my life to Him? What if I wasn’t genuine?
And if I was genuine, how was my testimony supposed to help anyone? As I’ve gotten older and turned my attentions more toward leading others to Christ, I’ve heard countless stories of dramatic and life-changing moments when a now-Christian turned from their life of sin and gave everything to Him. Testimonies that showed that no one is too far gone, that God never stops reaching out, and that He still works miracles in everyday life.
And then there’s me – and many other people with similar ‘small’ stories.
For a long time, I’ve wondered how God could possibly use my story to help others come to Him. If they’re old enough to be listening to me tell my story of accepting Christ, they’ll probably be too old to relate to my situation. And what if hearing that I embraced the truth so early makes them feel guilty or ashamed or actually pushes them farther from God?
I was almost embarrassed to answer when people asked about it – and I hated that.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned a lot. What I’ve experienced, what I’ve been taught, and what I’ve seen God do in my life has impacted me in many ways. While 2020 and 2021 were far from easy, they catapulted me into confronting some of my biggest challenges – and I had no choice but to rely entirely on God to get me through them.
And looking back, I’ve realized something I should have realized a long time ago.
Our testimonies are not only our ‘conversion experiences’. Our potential to reach others is not only comprised of the big, dramatic moments of our lives. God doesn’t only work through us using miracles and mind-blowing events.
He works through everything. Every tiny detail. Every word spoken, every minute spent, and every smile shared. And often, those little things are what mean the most.
I remember hearing an analogy once about God’s work in our lives resembling embroidery. If you’ve ever watched someone embroider (thanks, Mom!), you know that while the carefully-placed stitches form a design on the top of the item, the underside of it is anything but clear.
In fact, it looks pretty awful. A mess of strings and knots and colors – and no obvious design. I’ve heard our lives compared to that underside of the embroidery. Things may seem to be an out of control mess, and the seemingly-random scattering of events, people, and lessons may lead us to feel like nothing we’re going through is worth it.
But some day, when we get to Heaven, I imagine our Heavenly Father will find great joy in showing us the top side of His embroidery. The true design He’s always masterfully working on – not just through our lives, but through the lives of everyone who ever has and ever will live. That’s when we’ll get to see how some of those ‘random’ things fit into the beautiful final picture.
And until then, I believe God allows us to see glimpses of that design sometimes. A sneak peek of sorts. A preview that doesn’t reveal everything, but shows enough to encourage and inspire us to keep running the race with all our strength.
And most of the glimpses that I’ve been blessed with have been through little things.
In the hard times, it’s been the comforting words, hugs, and help from loved ones. Something as easy as a smile, a “how are you really doing?”, or a squeeze on the shoulder may seem small, but sometimes those are the best things. When our hearts are so full of big hurts, often we need those little reminders that someone cares to slip in the cracks.
In the times when I’m struggling to make tricky decisions, it’s the little signs and reminders that make all the difference. Someone telling me a random story about their day, a song on the radio, change in price, an hour of unexpected change in the weather, even hurting myself while doing something…I believe God uses it all to speak to us. The problem is that we don’t naturally listen closely enough to recognize the ‘small’ communication.
And when I’m having a good day, it’s usually because of the small things too. Music, a phone call, GIF text battle, or afternoon spent with loved ones, a sweet comment on a story of mine, sunshine, snuggles with a puppy, a smile from a stranger, a cozy blanket, refreshing water after a hot day gardening, a random compliment, a cheesy joke, a good book…the blessings in our lives are endless. And we may consider them to be small, but they’re so important.
And I think they’re often overlooked. I’m grateful that my family has always prioritized finding joy in the everyday. Finding and counting the blessings that we’re missing, even though they’re in plain sight. It’s a lesson I need to relearn often, but I’m so glad it’s one I’ve been taught repeatedly.
We don’t need extravagant vacations, gifts, or shows of affection. In fact, I think many of us would be a lot better off if everyone focused a bit more on the small things. The hour of quality time at the end of our day, the fistful of dandelions, and the hug after we’re apart from someone we love. There’s nothing wrong with big things, but they aren’t the only things that matter.
And in my spiritual life, I see this as well. I’m forever awed and thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. If ever something huge was done out of love for you and me, that’s it. Nothing can beat that. But that’s far from the only thing He’s done. Instead, He’s with us in the little things too.
The whispered prayers in the stressful moments, the silent pleas through the tears, and the stunned thank-you’s in moments of joy. Each and every moment of our day, whether we’re doing something we consider important or not. It’s all important to Him.
So as I look back over my life so far, then look forward to all the many things the future could hold, I’m becoming more and more thankful for the little things. They’ve made all the difference. And finding them in my days makes life even more meaningful, and reminds me to stay intentional, grateful, and awake to everything God is doing.
There are little blessings all around us.
We just need to remember to look for them.
Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
(Psalm 115:1 NIV)