Small and Little | Part Two
In a world that values big and tall, let us strive for little and small.
“People who are servants-humbly, honestly, and joyfully-keep getting revealed as the biggest winners. People who recognize and embrace their smallness keep getting bigger and bigger in God's eyes. It's the oddest scoring system.”
[Continued from Part One yesterday]
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
[Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Could it really be that the path to authentic, meaningful greatness is by becoming smaller, lower, and less than?
But … what about … how then … ?
In case there is any doubt Jesus, himself, makes things pretty clear:
Matthew 20:26-27 — “… whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve …”
Mark 10:43-44 — “… whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
Luke 9:48 — [Jesus] said to them, “… For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
John 12:26 — “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Littleness and leastness are God’s plan and call for those who would follow him. Where Jesus goes those who follow him will go. Where he is those who follow him will be.
Smallness is subversive, because smallness can creep into smaller places and wreak transformation at the most vulnerable, cellular level. In a time when largeness is threatening to topple us, I wish to remember and praise the beauty of smallness… (Sarah Ruhl, quoted in Beautiful Grace)
Jesus spent his time with those not taken seriously, those who were too low to matter, those who had little to offer. Most shocking of all, he spent time with those considered unclean and unworthy of either time or attention. In the smallness of his day-to-day interactions and activities, Jesus brought about God-sized redemption and transformation!
Smallness is incarnational and relational—connecting with people in brief moments and small ways that lead to continued conversation and dialogue. Smallness begins with average, ordinary people like you and me being present and living in the now … (Beautiful Grace)
This is what we should ask Jesus for at Christmas: the grace of littleness. “Lord, teach us to love littleness. Help us to understand that littleness is the way to authentic greatness” … to believe that God desires to come into the little things of our life; he wants to inhabit our daily lives, the things we do each day at home, in our families, at school and in the workplace. Amid our ordinary lived experience, he wants to do extraordinary things. (Pope Francis)
Smallness is the precision blade by which the Holy Spirit forms and shapes Christlike disciples, and the way that God continues to lead the Body of Christ to the ends of the earth—both the spiritual and geographical ends. When we begin to see the people that surround us, we begin to see the small, but meaningful, opportunities all around us; opportunities to share sparks of God’s beautiful grace.
Jesus does not want to come merely in the little things of our lives, but also in our own littleness: in our experience of feeling weak, frail, inadequate, perhaps even “messed up”.
… if, as in Bethlehem, the darkness of night overwhelms you, if you feel surrounded by cold indifference, if the hurt you carry inside cries out, “You are of little account; you are worthless; you will never be loved the way you want”, tonight God answers back.
Tonight he tells you: “I love you just as you are. Your littleness does not frighten me, your failings do not trouble me. I became little for your sake … don’t be afraid of me. Find in me your measure of greatness. I am close to you, and one thing only do I ask: trust me and open your heart to me”. (Pope Francis)
There is no person too little, too small, too insignificant, or too far gone, that God does not reach out with a healing hand…and merciful hand…and a hand of infinite love.
God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Therein lies the power of smallness … You can smile and give a simple word of encouragement. You can lend a helping hand to someone in need. You can sit in a chair, drink coffee, and ask meaningful questions. You can listen and care and be available. You can share your story about how God has worked in your life. You can pray for people. You can pray with people. You can make a difference in so many small, but meaningful, ways. (Beauty of Small Things)
We are concluding a year that, for many of us, did not play out anything like what we had hoped or imagined. As we embark on the journey of 2022, maybe it’s time to offer to God our littleness. Maybe it is time to embrace smallness. Maybe…just maybe…God is able to do more with my smallness in his hands than I am able to do with my own greatness in mine. Lord, grant us the grace of littleness!
Happy New Year!
Three more quotes to ponder:
“He who stays not in his littleness, loses his greatness.”
—Saint Francis de Sales
“Big rocks are envy of little sands because little sands can travel with the winds. Every littleness has its own big advantages!”
—Mehmet Murat ildan
“So much of life is in the smallness of moments...but they are harder to mark. So we need the grander celebrations and occasions. People like to feel significant.”