Treasuring the Small Beginnings

Rachel Chimits

Even if God asks us to do something that seems small or dangerous or just plain strange, we will miss out on spectacular results if we fail to follow his call.

Most people are probably not familiar with Zerubbabel. He doesn’t typically feature in the Sunday school Bible lessons alongside Noah, Moses and Jesus.

He was a Jewish leader who, along with a priest named Joshua, was told by God to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Not only would obeying this command involve a long journey, but it was also likely to infuriate the current king of Persia.

Zerubbabel and Joshua, however, obeyed God’s call and set off to see what they could do. The king of Persia ended up supporting their venture, and they rebuilt the temple, reinstituting worship of God in the city.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” Zechariah 4:10 (NLT).

A descendant of David, his line eventually led to Jesus, the one who made a new temple for the Holy Spirit inside each believer.

The Gift Inside a Sudden Call

When God unexpectedly urges us to take action, it can be easy to object. Over and over, we see this in the Bible as people protest against God’s sudden call.

In Exodus chapters 3 through 4, Moses gave a long line of excuses before finally concluding, “Please send someone else.” Gideon spent a lot of time protesting and waffling back and forth about what he should do (Judges 6:1-27), and Elisha hesitated to leave his family (1 Kings 19:19-21).

God asked all of these biblical figures to do something small to start.

These seemingly insignificant beginnings grew into movements that changed their country and affected hundreds of thousands of people.

“The scripture that has always spoken to my heart in that regard is a scripture in Zechariah where it says, ‘don't despise the day of small beginnings, because God delights in small beginnings,’” John Bueno pointed out on the Gary Wilkerson podcast.

“I think it's a lesson for all of us. We start with what we have, with the doors that are open, and then we let the Lord do the rest.

“All God expects us to do is what we can. And if we're obedient, if we're sensitive to what he asks us to do, the opportunities that he sets before us, then he gives us the ability to do even bigger things.”

Jesus talked about this situation in his parable about the master who gave his servants talents to invest while he was away (Matthew 25:14-30).

God has given us abilities and resources that he wants us to use for the good of heaven’s kingdom and the people in our lives. When we choose to “bury” those gifts, we’re missing out on an opportunity to see God’s glory as well as to receive an eternal reward.

Watching for God to Move

As the old saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step forward.

One of John and Lois Bueno’s adventures in following God’s call began as sponsoring a few children in El Salvador to go to school, and their faithfulness eventually grew into funding 37 schools that have served over 400,000 students.

Now many of the children who grew up in their schools are graduating from universities and taking jobs in El Salvador’s local and national government offices.

We can’t know how God will use our faithfulness with the seemingly inconsequential.

“I love to encourage people just to sponsor a child through a ministry or bring a meal to neighbors,” Gary Wilkerson explained. “You can do great things for God, or you can do small things for God that turn out to have a great impact on people.”

It’s vital to remind ourselves that God honors work we do for him, especially if it goes unseen, unacknowledged or criticized because it seems silly to outsiders.

Surely the woman in Matthew 26 felt a flicker of pain and hesitation when the disciples condemned her for “wasting” her perfume on Jesus’ feet. She might have even wondered if what she was doing was the right thing when she first felt the urge to take this fragrant ointment to Jesus.

However, Jesus comes out in defense of her actions. “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13 ESV).

Did such a “trivial” thing really matter so much to him?

It clearly did and probably for the same reason he noticed and praised the widow who gave two coins in Luke 21. God cares deeply about the sacrifices and gifts that come from a place near our heart, even—perhaps especially—when they’re not noticeable to the rest of the world.

Praying and Waiting

What do you feel like the Holy Spirit is nudging you to do?

Maybe you’re not sure it’s from God, or it’s something you’re not comfortable doing. Pray for God’s guidance and affirmation of this call, but don’t hesitate for too long. Your willingness to take this step could mean seeing God move spectacularly and in ways you would’ve never thought possible.

If you haven’t felt specifically called to anything, ask God how you can honorably use the talents he’s given you.

Wait and listen for that call to a small beginning.