The Great Small Things

When I opened my eyes this morning, tired and puffy from a week full of too many nights without sleep and too few days without rest, I expected my regular waking routine. I’d roll to my back, stretch and tell my bones that are more young than old (but crack more than they probably should for someone my age) to get ready for the day, rub my eyes to remove the crust and help them to adjust to the soft dawn light coming in through the blinds, and then wait for the soon coming, earsplitting “MOM!” that one of my two young sons would beckon me with in a tone that should not ever be used before 11 am.

But today, as I stirred from my sleep to see my youngest son standing in my dark doorway without a sound, before I had time to form a thought or utter a word, Holy Spirit spoke to me, in His familiar voice that is as strong as it is kind, a voice that time has taught me to trust and learn from.

“What a shame that everyone is so focused on doing a great thing for God, that no one is interested in doing a small thing for Him.”

I groaned. I don’t know if it was a this is too early for this groan or that the weight of the truth His words carry before I even have time to understand them, immediately sits heavy on my chest. I felt Atlas shuffle into my sheets, his warm little body getting so close to me I felt like I could absorb him right back into my womb, and his raspy voice that brings joy like fountain to anyone who hears it broke the silence in the room. “I love you, Mom.” he said, and I kissed his head but did not speak, distracted from new revelation that had arrived with the new daybreak. “You have to say I love you, too Atlas.” he corrected me, my kiss not reciprocal enough for his sweet toddler love. “I love you too, Atlas.” I said, and he smiled. “Can I watch PBS Kids?” “Yes, baby.” I said thankful that I could have some time to think.

The abrasive sounds of Peg + Cat filled my room, but a familiar Presence lingered, unfazed by the sing song sounds of math and alphabet merged for twenty first century learning consumption. Leaning in to the thickness, I spoke, aware that a Holy moment was being had in the midst of an otherwise unremarkable November morning.

“Do you want to teach me something?”

“Yes.”

“I’m listening.”

“I don’t want you to listen. I want you to learn.”

Ugh…a righteous gut punch. How many things had He shown me lately that I had listened intently to, but in laziness or complacency or a dangerous mixture of both, had not been applied to my life to take what I hard from academics to action.

It took a moment, but eventually remorse gave way to repentance and I felt an unlocking and releasing in my soul welcoming whatever He intended to teach me. I didn’t have to tell Him, He knows every part of me, and like always He knew I was ready before I did.

“What a shame that everyone is so focused on doing a great thing for God, that no one is interested in doing a small thing for Him.”

He said again, but this time, in the spirit I saw a scroll and as it unrolled before me, I saw a familiar verse written on it.


“Despise not these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10

I felt confused, and He could feel my confusion. It wasn’t a foreign verse, I’d seen it on home decor and wall murals, but something about how it was laid out on the scroll felt unfamiliar to me, and then, in the spirit I saw Him strike through the end of the sentence leaving just the beginning, and my confusion lifted.

“Despise not these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin….” Zechariah 4:10

“This is the way you know it.”

And He was right. I don’t think before today I’d ever seen or heard the part about the plumb line, I didn’t even know what a plumb line was. Like most believers, this how I had always interpreted that verse:

“Don’t hate the little boring things. Don’t get hung up on the mundane day to day, because they lead to the big thing at the end. God gets excited that you’re even starting.”

Like most believers, we lump this verse in with the likes of Philippians 4:13 and Jeremiah 29:11 – feel good, seemingly do nothing verses that speak to the benefits we get in Christ without our work or participation and we slap them on coffee mugs and notebooks to capitalize on their comforting nature and generalize them for shallow encouragement without ever taking the time to dive into what they truly mean.

The commercialization of evangelical Christianity is unintentionally making scripture impuissant by giving us comfort in the thought without power in the action, because it is not saying the words alone that empowers us, but in truly understanding what they mean FOR us and require FROM us that allows us to live emboldened by the authority they give us.

And then…like a sudden explosion of color and light and clarity, my old perspective left and new understanding took its place. Though Holy Spirit hadn’t spoken anything in a long moment, it felt as if He’d downloaded a file of information into my mind that my heart immediately recognized.

“There you go. You got it.”

The verse wasn’t about the small beginnings, it was about the established plumb line.

Zerubbabel was rebuilding the temple that King Solomon had built that was destroyed by the Babylonians. He was building a place of worship and much like the second temple that he worked to build – we too are temples of worship, and like his temple, the development and building is slow. The foundation alone took years to lay…and that is the truth and power of Zechariah 4:10.

A plumb line is a chord with a weight attached to the end, that when held properly allowing the weight to dangle freely allows an exact center – a true vertical to be determined.  It is important because it is extremely difficult to determine the true center in the middle of an already established project. It must be done at the beginning, and throughout the development of the project the line remains true and all other work must line up with it to avoid being crooked.

Zechariah 4:10 isn’t about refusing to hate the boring day to day, it is about how we should rejoice that the Lord rejoices in small acts the set straight the true center of our lives – they establish Christ as the Cornerstone, the foundation of our lives.

“It is the small that We rejoice in, for in Heaven it is no small thing to be obedient to a small request. We are not concerned with the people’s ability to do great exploits that all men shall see, but instead, our concern is for their willingness to faithfully do what remains unseen by man.”

All my life I have prayed, like many, that God would use me to do great things. In truth, I have never once asked Him to use me to do small ones. But what Holy Spirit so kindly taught me this morning, is that a life of many small exploits adds up to a life of great importance in the Kingdom of God, and it is these small obedient moments that keep Christ as the cornerstone of our lives.

With every small act of generosity, quiet act of obedience, and quick moment of self-denial the plumb line of my life is being established. My foundation, the True Center, Christ the Cornerstone of my life, is working like gravity to make sure that the temple built, the development of my character, and the person that I am, is straight, steady, and true, and He is doing the same in you.

Don’t be averse to doing small things that many would see as unimportant. Know that every little movement you make is celebrated in Heaven as it establishes the plumb line of your life too.

Today I encourage you to see this verse like this:

“Don’t have a lack of respect and reverence for acts that seem insignificant, for the Lord is glad to see the true center of the temple established in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10

Don’t forgo opportunities to be obedient to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit today because you’re too busy waiting for the loud beckoning of the great call. Perhaps it will be many quiet promptings that walk you daily into the fullness of greatness.

Every $20 gift that you wish was $200…
Every private prophetic word that you share with a stranger…
Every quiet encouragement that you give to a friend…
Every single step He asks you take that seemingly leads nowhere…
Every desire you have to deny that you wish wasn’t a temptation at all…

These small acts, though seen by no one except the Father who calls you to commit them, are great exploits. They are seen and rejoiced in in Heaven and they are shaping you into the temple of worship that He intends you to be. Listen and do, and know He goes with you when you do.