We often hear people talk about “the big picture.” Presumably they are referring to the greater outcome, the one that achieves the end goal or affects the greatest number of people, or some other result or direction beyond the routine. We do find that having the big picture in view can often help us find direction and purpose and that such insight can propel us along the often arduous path of reaching our goals.
Can it be possible, though, that we often miss the small things that alter our path in more subtle ways? Is not a large ship steered by a small rudder? Perhaps the little course corrections that occur in our day to day lives even turn us towards outcomes for which we had no prior vision. Similarly, do we tend to see God’s bigger picture but miss the small ways he affects the course of our journey on a daily basis?
To answer this, let’s look at 1 Samuel 9:3: “One day Kish’s donkeys strayed away, and he told Saul, “Take a servant with you, and go look for the donkeys.” This seemingly innocuous occurrence would likely be a commonplace happening in the lives of donkey owners. A “little thing” if you will. But what of this specific little thing? To explore this further, I’d like to share this commentary from my Charles Spurgeon Study Bible:
“Observe how the hand of God’s providence uses the little things. This man, Saul, must be placed in the path of the prophet Samuel. How will a meeting be brought about? Poor beasts of burden will be the means. The donkeys wander off, and Saul’s father tells him to take a servant and seek them. In the course of their wanderings, the animals might have gone north, south, east, or west – for who will account for the wild will of runaway donkeys? But so it happened, as people say, that they strayed, or were thought to have strayed, in such a direction that eventually Saul found himself near Ramah, where Samuel was ready to anoint him. On how small an incident the greatest events may hinge!”
God had chosen Saul to be Israel’s first king and revealed such only to Samuel. Samuel did not yet know who God had chosen, a piece of information God would ultimately reveal to him but first the meeting had to be arranged. God did so via wandering donkeys. Who would have guessed, right?! But if we are studious in our Bibles, we see similar things happening all the time. But how about in our own lives? Do we see God at work in the little things?
The Spurgeon commentary goes on to say, “Had we but sufficiently powerful perceptive faculties, we would see God’s hand as clearly in each stone on our pathway as in the revolution of the earth.” I do not know about you, but I frequently find myself stumbling about my life seemingly unaware of the way our Lord might be directing the smallest of my steps. That old friend I bumped into at just such a time might seem completely random but how might God be working in it? How might he have directed it? Might that last minute phone call I took from a customer altered my timing just so?
And it is with this in mind that I set forth this reminder – that we try to maintain an acute awareness of how God might be moving not just in the big picture, but in the seemingly unimportant or unremarkable. That we look closely at even the smallest little things in our lives and we consider how God might be directing them, either for our benefit or that of someone else, maybe even someone we do not yet know or may never know. Scripture tells us God has interest in the smallest details of our lives, ie: Matthew 10:30 – “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”
And He definitely has a bigger picture in mind, one we cannot yet see or perceive. But we know we can trust him; as the psalmist wrote: “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5) And in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” So trust God might be at work in the small things. Perhaps it really wasn’t by random chance that waiter was assigned to your table or that you ended up in that particular line in the supermarket. Perhaps your smile will be the little light that changes the big picture for someone who just needed a little kindness today.
When we live daily in God’s grace, even the smallest things can make the biggest of differences!
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