March 1, 2013

Today my heart is filled with joy and thankfulness, in spite of all kinds of issues and struggles plaguing my life and the lives of those I love. 

Today, my webpage REFLECTIONS FOR LIVING, is one year old!

So, I’m celebrating!

-    first and foremost celebrating God, the giver of all gifts and all joy –  who, in spite of who I am, loves me with a strong, unconditional and eternal love, and who has chosen to give me the gift and the delight I find in writing
-    celebrating one year of God speaking to me and inspiring me, when many days I was so afraid that I would have nothing more to say and write – ever!
-    celebrating my computer and internet whiz and friend, Julian, without whose technical expertise, advice and constant encouragement there would be no webpage
-    celebrating my friend and fellow-foreigner here in Colombia, Crista, who so faithfully and excellently is doing almost all the translation of my reflections from Spanish into English (bizarre, isn’t it? I’m an English-speaking Canadian, whose mother tongue is German, who taught French for several years in the Ontario public school system, but who now chooses Spanish as her first and most fluent language for writing …)
-    celebrating all those who have spoken or written words of support and gratitude to me, motivating and inspiring me to keep running this race
-    and celebrating YOU! for choosing to take the time and make the effort to enter my page – for reading and reflecting and praying your way through – for allowing God to speak to your heart and spirit, and for allowing His words to encourage you, comfort you, challenge you, and transform you

There have been hard days. There have been times when I simply wanted to give up and “throw in the towel” (does anyone know where that expression comes from?!) There have been moments when I was discouraged and frustrated and wondering whether all the hard work was really and truly worth it …

And then one day, God spoke to me through an Old Testament prophet: Zechariah. After many years of captivity in Babylon, Joshua (High Priest of the people of Israel) and Zerubbabel (governor of the province of Judah), under the orders of Cyrus King of Persia, were sent back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 5). In Zechariah 4, God spoke through the prophet with these words: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty … The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone (or plumb-line) in the hand of Zerubbabel?” 

These verses speak courage to my heart. Rebuilding a temple is a long and arduous job. You start small, with the foundations, and you build upon them, stone by stone, until the entire structure is completed. But at the start, you can easily “despise the day of small things” – precisely because the initial “things” are often hidden and seemingly “small” and insignificant. And yet, the foundations are just that: foundational. Without them, as hidden or as small or as insignificant as they might seem when the entire structure is standing, there would simply be no structure. And so, if you are hard-working and persevering and faithful from start to finish, if you remember that it is “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty”, then one day there will be great joy at seeing a beautiful temple raised up, there will be much thankfulness when you see that “little is much in the hands of God”.

And I think of REFLECTIONS FOR LIVING: in the grand scheme of world-wide internet, my page is a tiny speck of sand on a long beach, a drop of water in an ocean. And there are days when I want to simply stop, when I find myself “despising the day of small things”. Would anyone even notice? I mean, would one speck of sand less, one drop of water less, really make any difference? Is all the long and hard work of laying the foundations, which in the end will be buried and unseen anyway, really worth it?

But then I remember (good ol’) Zerubbabel: he began small, with just a plumb-line in his hand, as he laid the foundation of the temple. And God rejoiced when He saw that small but chosen instrument in his hand. Because the temple that Zerubbabel had begun building, his own hands would finish, and the plumb-line was the instrument that would assure that it was straight and strong and tall. “Who dares despise the day of small things”, when it is often the small and hidden things that are essential for the visible and significant things that come later?

And so, although REFLECTIONS FOR LIVING has begun small, I cannot and I must not despise its initial smallness.

-    I must simply obey: keep praying, keep writing, keep on being faithful
-    I must believe that God is rejoicing in the little that I have in my hands to offer Him
-    I must trust that, although the beginning is indeed small and apparently insignificant, He will one day make much out of the little I am giving Him
-    and I must remember every day that it is not by my might or by my power but by God’s Spirit that anything is accomplished at all

I read once (sorry, I can’t remember where in order to give due credit …): “When you get discouraged that you are working so hard for seemingly so few people, remember that the quality of what you give to those few will determine the growth factor into many. Poor quality to a few will lead to little growth to many. But excellent quality to a few will lead to excellent growth to many.”

And so, today I celebrate!

-    I celebrate “small things”, because God rejoices in “small things” that are offered to Him
-    I celebrate the beautifully-constructed temples that are the result of firmly and faithfully-laid foundations
-    I celebrate that it is not our own might or power, but God’s Spirit working in and through us, that allows for anything to be done and accomplished well at all
-    and I celebrate REFLECTIONS FOR LIVING’s first birthday! – a small beginning, surely – but one that, just as surely, delights God’s heart – one that I am committed to seeing raised up and fully established – one whose many small seeds sown, I believe by faith will someday bless and feed the nations!


More Reflections [+]