Don’t Despise Small Beginnings

I want it all I want it all I want it all and I want it now – Queen

So sang Freddy Mercury. Freddy tells it like it is – we don’t like to wait. We want it all and we want it now. I want godly children and I want them now. I want to be like Christ and I want it now. I want God’s blessings and I want them now. I want my church to be huge and I want it now. But God doesn’t work that way. Apparently he doesn’t listen to Queen. God begins his work with seeds hidden in the earth and babies in mangers.

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (Zechariah 4:10)

About 50 years after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Babylonian empire crumbled and Persia ascended to world power. Cyrus made a decree that the Jews could return and rebuild the temple and Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor led around 40,000 Jews back to their land to start the work.

They laid the foundations with rejoicing. Yet the older men who remembered the former temple wept. The beginnings of this temple were a far cry from the glory of Solomon’s. It was a “day of small things”. Yet God told his people they would rejoice in the future.

God’s great works often have humble beginnings. He picked Abraham, an old relic and Sarah his barren wife, to birth his chosen people. He began Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery with a baby in a basket caught in the cattails of the Nile. The Savior of the world was born in a smelly stable in a nowhere town in a downtrodden nation. Jesus employed a motley crew of uneducated fishermen to start his church. Hardly auspicious beginnings.

Oak trees sprout from acorns. Babies grow from microscopic cells. Mighty rivers swell from tiny springs. God’s work of grace in our lives is often but a spark at first. My first prayers were peppered with cursing because I wanted to be honest with God. They were like an oily car engine sputtering to life, belching out black smoke and fumes, but it was a start. A small one, but I’m grateful God didn’t despise it.

We can look at our lives and become discouraged at the imperceptible progress we see. We can sigh at how faint a glimmer of grace we see in our children’s lives. We can be tempted to grow impatient at a young believers’ faltering progress. We may be discouraged by the small size and slow growth of our church. Yet God tells us not to despise small beginnings.

Is there a spark of faith in your child? Even the weakest flame? Are there the crudest beginnings of love for Jesus in your friend? Is there one true step toward God even though there are 10 backward? God begins with faith the size of a mustard seed. Don’t despise the day of small things. Keep praying and encouraging and hoping. Keep sowing those prayers, though they feel tiny and powerless. You will yet rejoice.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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