“See, I’m doing something small.”
On one of my daily walks last week, I asked God about the year we’re heading into, what’s going on spiritually, what’s on His heart for us. I heard Him say, “See, I’m doing something small.” It made me smile, that way that God speaks to me, I felt the warmth of His humor that pulls me in, as always, to the intriguing conversation with the Holy Spirit.
Isn’t it just like God to highlight this? Intellectually I know that God’s ways are not our ways, that He takes the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, that His victory looks like death on a cross. His power works subversively through our long obedience in the same direction (to quote Eugene Peterson). And yet, as a human, I feel the constant swell of the cultural tide. I get sucked into thinking about wisdom in a human way, enticed by the bright lights of western spirituality’s version of success. Ugh – how do I travel in so many circles? Yet, here I am, I’m grateful for the Spirit’s ongoing work in my life, continually nudging me to live the way of Jesus.
To be clear, this isn’t a post to bring critique to anything big – I’m sure that God will be doing some pretty big things with some of you this year. I want to share some revelation that I sense the Spirit illuminating. God’s small work – something I believe God is offering each of us to walk into this year – the wisdom of the small.
The wisdom of the small.
In the book of proverbs, there’s a verse that I love. It gives insight into four small animals with exceeding wisdom in the way they live, and if we’re wise, we’d take note and apply their attributes to our spiritual journey.
“There are four animals in the world that are small but very, very clever: Ants: they are weak, but they store up their food in the summer. Rock badgers: they are not strong either, but they make their homes among the rocks. Locusts: they have no king, but they move in formation. Lizards: you can hold one in your hand, but you can find them in palaces.” (Proverbs 30:24-28 NLT)
And so here are some musings on the ants, the rock badgers, the locusts, and the lizards. Lessons on the small ways that God wants to work in our lives and an invitation from the Spirit, I think, to participate in what He is doing.
Ants – the future builders
The ants prepare their food in summer for the winter that lies ahead. When everyone else has no food, they have plenty to eat and offer. Instead of fearing the future, you see, they use their energy and effort to innovate and build toward it.
I believe God wants to cultivate this trait in us for such a time as this. An army of under-the-radar spiritual futurologists. They not only anticipate the dynamics of the future, seeking to understand the cultural landscape that we will live in, but they also innovate, translate and have spiritual food to offer for a time where possibly there will be none or little available.
These are the learners, the dreamers, the questioners – those who refuse to spend energy and effort on things they cannot change but instead harness the problems of today with the predictions of the future and with the Spirits lead, harvest hope, solution, and gospel expression for whatever the future holds.
Rock Badgers – the foundation seekers
The rock badgers have sober judgment instead of thinking too highly of themselves. They acutely know who they are. They understand their weakness, their vulnerability to being preyed upon by wild animals, and as a result, they build their homes in the rocks. They seek refuge from something that can protect them.
To be like them is wisdom for us today. To be God’s people, who are aware of our smallness, limits, vulnerabilities, emotional health, the propensity to fall into temptation and take that knowledge and choose to build our homes (every aspect of our lives) in Jesus the rock.
These are the humble, the real, the unashamed, who courageously take their raw, unfiltered stories to the cross and triumphantly boast, “ it’s in my weaknesses that the power of Christ can work through me.”
Locusts – the ‘family’ believers
The third small wise creature is the locust. These people and their dependence on each other, community, and understanding of being a family bring a collective formation that the world rarely sees. They don’t buy individualism for an instant; instead, they’ve known the compelling power that comes “when two or three are gathered together in God’s name.” Their formation is a force to be reckoned with, that becomes a sign that makes Pharaohs shudder and a noise that shatters slavery’s chains.
These are communities of faith, friends, sisters, brothers, ‘family’ believers. They never falter meeting. A small revolution happens as they eat, laugh, cry, and sing together, allowing the Spirit to slowly but surely bring counter formation.
Lizards – the freedom climbers
And finally, the lizard. This tiny creature lives in such a way we’d be wise to pay attention. Lizards represent people who understand how kingdom influence works. Instead of freedom fighters, they are freedom climbers. They are content with who they are. They live in a full access zone – wherever the Spirit leads – they climb, often not going through the front door.
These are Spirit-filled teachers, bankers, designers, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms and dads, music makers, painters, and decorators. On Mondays, they sip coffee at Starbucks, and on Fridays, they get an audience with the Queen. It doesn’t matter, palace or coffee house, because they know the destination isn’t the power, it’s who that lives in them that matters.
God is doing something small. Developing future builders, foundation seekers, ‘family’ believers and freedom climbers. Who’s in?