We hate being shown we’re small. We push back when confronted with possible failure. We dislike weakness when we’re the weak. We want to be the big — the admired, the sought after, the happy — the person whose confidence is bolstered by their day. We do not want to be small.
But God means better for us. He means that we’d not hide from our smallness, but when confronted with our insufficiency (and even while still in the middle of an insufficient moment), we’d turn and be loved by Him in all His sufficiency. So seeing our smallness isn’t a thorn to be avoided at all. Smallness can be our friend. It’s a good thing.
We don’t have to buck up when people or circumstances reveal our ineptness. Instead, we can actually admit our neediness, and come to rest in the place we’re meant to know — in the arms of God. As our insufficiency reminds us of His sufficiency, our whole perspective can begin to change.
Instead of constructing (whether consciously or subconsciously) our daily environment to avoid being perceived (by others, or in our own mind) as dumb, or less, or weak, we’re freed to live freely, openly. We don’t have to hide behind walls of protection, because when we’re shown weakness, we realize it’s actually God who’s kindly revealing our smallness — and we remember that He only allows good for us.
So goof-ups of the cataclysmic sort and littler moments of messiness do chip away at our self-protective veneer, but both the mighty and the minuscule signals of our smallness become, instead of instances for anger or fear, opportunities for gratitude and growth. On days when:
- Someone’s remarks reveal you’ve disappointed them.
- You forget something (important or not) again.
- You find yourself tongue-tied when an opportunity to shine arises.
- You have to ask for help, and in so doing, feel like an irritant or a burden.
- You trip on the steps in front of a crowd.
On those days, in those moments, instead of becoming defensive or beaten by self-recrimination, your inner response can more and more become:
“Oh yeah, I am small. I’m not You, Lord. I’m meant to realize that and find my joy in the freely-given relationship I have with You, not in my applauded daily performance. Oh. I remember now. Thank you, Father, for this painful, but needed reminder.”
I can embrace my smallness. I can rejoice that, though small, and shown so in many ways daily, I am loved by One who is BIG. Insufficient am I. Sufficient is He. Pretending, pride, and posturing fade away, for I’m washed with perfect love by the God who is earth-shattering and magnificent and supreme. I’m free to be a fallible, fragile jar who’s loved dearly and deeply by the Infallible:
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
I fall toward Christ. In my small moment, I fall in need and repentance (repentance because in my heart I wanted to be BIG apart from God). And I find that He’s always there. For when God is our Father, no smallness-revealed instance needs to be feared, or fought.
It’s not scary to be little when we’re held by one who is so big. So watch for His tender mercy: how might God show you you’re small today?
(Note: All of my “How did God show you you’re small today?” thoughts began with a sentence from a new book I highly recommend. A friend, who long ago deeply influenced my love for the Lord, has written a memoir about the life of his dear brother who died of cancer. Many of the words of his book, The Last Sweet Mile, have affected me for weeks now.
It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read on how to die well, and how to love well those who are dying. Allen writes with winsome beauty about Gary’s life of humble obedience and faithfulness in small things. Themes of singleness (Gary was a bachelor missionary for years) and serving God no matter where He’s placed us run throughout the memoir.
Gary loved Jesus. Allen loves Jesus. And this is the highest compliment I can give: after you read, you’ll love Jesus more. To order, and to peruse Allen’s website (he’s a singer/songwriter), click here. The link to order the The Last Sweet Mile is on his homepage.)