Don’t let the Big devalue the Small

Something huge is happening today. I’ve been posting about it for the last few days. My best friend will be home tonight! I’ve been waiting for this day for more than two years, and in the last few days, it’s been all I can think about. We’ll get to have adventures together. I’ll get the privilege of seeing her face nearly every day. It’s huge and exciting and I can’t wait for tonight when she gets here!

But you know what? It’s not tonight yet. I still have hours and hours and hours until Katie arrives at the airport tonight. And, yes, it’s a big thing to have her home again, and most everything else in my life pales in comparison. But just because other events are smaller doesn’t mean that they’re less important.

Little flowers at Happy Meadows Campground near Colorado Springs, CO

Little flowers at Happy Meadows Campground near Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are 1 Kings 19:11-13.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

People are impressed by flash. Big booms and explosions, fancy light shows and displays, marketing and lace and suave charming facades. We like the big, impressive shows. They get our attention, and as long as they keep up the action, they keep it. And, honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s okay to be flashy. I know a lot of flashy people who are devoted, dedicated Christ-followers. It’s great to marvel at a big show. Lightning storms are awe-inspiring. I’m a pyro and love fire, and I love guy movies where all sorts of things blow up. I get so caught up in the bigness of an event that I tend to miss the small, important things. And often what God wants us to learn is usually more obvious in the still, small moments.

God could have appeared to Elijah in any way He wanted. He could have been in the wind. He could have been in the earthquake. He could have been in the fire. But He chose to speak to Elijah in a still, small voice.

Elijah could have been carried away paying attention to the big stuff. I’m sure it was impressive. But what if he had been so focused on the big stuff that he missed God’s little voice? He would have missed the most important conversation of his life.

So what big thing is happening for you today? You know what’s happening for me. But I’ve got half a dozen other things going on today that are much smaller, and I need to pay attention to them. God gave me stuff to do today. Some of it’s big, and some of it’s small, but because God wants me to do all of it, it’s all important.

Don’t get so wrapped up in the great big events of your life that you forget the importance of the small stuff.

Don’t forget who the story is really about

When I’m writing a story, sometimes I get lost in it. I’m not sure how other people do it, but when I write, I’m really just watching a story unfold and committing the events and dialog to paper. Sometimes I don’t even know how it’s going to end. There are stories I’ve written where all my attention has been focused on what a character looks like or what a character says or what happens next in the story, and those are all important things to know. But it’s in those moments when I get so caught up in the details that I forget the point.

Some people will say that character is the most important part of a story. Others believe it’s plot–the chain of events that unfolds in a book. But I disagree with both of those. They’re important, yes, but not the most important. The most important part of a story is the message. Every story has a message, a lesson to learn, a point to communicate. And if you get so tied up in the characters and the voices and the settings and all the million little picky details, you run the risk of letting the message slip through your fingers.

Today’s verses are Matthew 17:1-8.

Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.

Put yourself in the shoes of Jesus’ inner circle–Peter, James, and John. The original three amigos. Can you even begin to imagine what they saw that night? In the blink of an eye, the veil covering Jesus’ earthly form pulled back, allowing them to see a piece of who He is. And if that weren’t enough, two legends from Jewish history decided to stop by for a visit.

Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah! My gosh, you don’t even have to know the Bible very well to know who Moses is. And Elijah may not be as familiar to you as Moses, but he’s the guy who called down fire on Mt. Caramel. These guys are heavy hitters. And their bodies had long since returned to dust.

So you can’t exactly blame Peter. I would have been excited too. Moses and Elijah! But Peter missed the point. Just like we do so often.

We take Jesus for granted because He’s always around. His name is everywhere, and we get used to Him, sort of like Peter did. Yeah, Jesus is a big deal, but He was always with them. Seeing two Old Testament prophets wandering around like they hadn’t been “dead” for a thousand years? Now that was something to write home about.

But God set Peter straight. The story isn’t about Moses. And it’s not about Elijah. The story is about Jesus, and it always has been. From before time began and long after time runs out, the story will forever and always be about Jesus. He’s the message. He’s the point.

Have you started to take Jesus for granted in your life? Are you more excited about something God is doing rather than the fact God is the one doing it? Take a step back. Take a moment to think about what actually matters.

It’s great to celebrate the details. It’s wonderful to focus on specific aspects of a job or a relationship or, like in my case, a novel. But don’t let those details get so big that they overshadow what really matters. Don’t forget who the story is really about.