In our modern world of incomprehensible complexities and umimaginable forces, it seems like an individual can hardly do anything that matters or makes a difference. Well, as we remember in the national holiday for Dr. King, there are the saints and superheros!
But for most of us, we have to admit that our problems — whether personal or social — seem persistent, even intractable. In our prayer of confession this Sunday, we’re asked if, “perhaps our sin is to give in to weariness, discouragement, bitterness?”
The world is so much bigger than you are or I am. And much that happens in our lives is more about what is going on around us than our personal agency. I can’t keep the stock market from crashing or the housing market from tanking. Likewise, on my own, global warming, international poverty and the arms race are beyond my reach.
Likewise, many of my personal problems feel like they are impossible to solve.
Still, I believe almost all of us — most of the time — have more power than we realize, much less invoke. God promises there’s always something we can do to make our lives or the lives of others’ better.
When you keep steady at something, what amazing changes can happen. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy biking: you just keep pedalling and before you know it, you’ve traveled 60 or 80 or 100 miles. In the end, you find yourself in a completely different place. The transformation can be incredible.
You aren’t so sure?
Think about a drip of water upon a rock. Yes, it may take years, but eventually the water begins to wear away the rock. First, there’s a slight depression. Then a bowl is hollowed out. The constant drip of water can bore right through the stone. And eventually terrific caverns create a new underground world.
Or consider the power of a drop of dye. It’s not some trick; just a truth about dissolution and concentration. Take a clear beaker of water and begin dripping the dye in it. At first, the dye disappears in the water. You will be surprised how many drops the water can swallow without alteration. It remains clear, like before the dye was introduced.
But as the drops continue, the water eventually begins to show the effects. Slowly, it grows dimmer and then darker as it takes on the color of the dye itself. Finally complete, remember that the transformation happened drop by drop.
A biblical example is how piece by piece Zerubbabel rebuilt and completed the second Temple, when the Jews returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. A whole lot of pieces come together to comprise something even greater than the whole. So Hezekiah (in chapter 4, verse 10) promises: “Does anyone dare despise this day of small things? They’ll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!”
Beloved, rejoice in your days of small beginnings… for they add up to something big. You may have a long, hard road ahead of you. But start out walking, one foot in front of the other, step by step, and you will be surprised how fast you get far ahead. Thanks be to God.
See you in church,