Imagine this: It’s a beautiful fall day, the weather is perfect, the leaves are changing, and you’re just relaxing. You’ve got your favorite snack with you, and you’re doing something you love, whether that’s just sitting or reading or having fun with someone you adore. Then, all of a sudden, you get a call or a text with some big news. It’s about that big thing you’ve been praying for. It’s finally happening. Oh, how you may start to praise God. But let’s backtrack for a second. What about the fabulous weather and beautiful day or the great time you were having? Did you thank God for those moments? God is working in those too.
What happens when we stop looking for God in those little moments and acts? What happens when we forget to thank God for the miraculous and the seemingly mundane?
God may be a miracle worker, revealer of mysteries, deliverer, great high priest, and mighty God. But he’s also God of peaceful afternoons, of subtle beauty, of small details, of quiet moments, and of little things. God is working in all things, not just the big, momentous things. He has a history of using small things to accomplish big things and to change lives. But do we recognize it when God is working in the little things?
Hebrews 13:8 TPT says: Jesus, the Anointed One, is always the same—yesterday, today, and forever.
Jesus never changes. He’s been using little things—moments, actions, objects, people—to do amazing things in the lives of His people for a long time. I also see how He continues to do so today. And since He’s always the same, He’s going to keep on bringing big results out of small things tomorrow.
Jesus is the same yesterday. We can see how in Bible times God very often worked using small things to accomplish big things.
Here are some ways God used small things long ago to make a big impact:
- Mustard seeds and faith: Do you know how small a mustard seed is? It’s only 1-2 millimeters long. Yet Jesus said that if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can move mountains. With faith so minuscule you would probably have to squint to see it!
Jesus, five loaves, and two fish: God used some pretty small portions to feed a lot of people. When the disciples told Jesus that they should send the crowds away for food, Jesus told the disciples to feed 5,000 men and their families with just five pieces of bread and two fish. And they did. Once Jesus blessed the food, the disciples handed out food to everyone there and had 12 bags left over.
- David and five stones: You may have heard the story of David and Goliath. God not only used some small rocks to take out a giant, but He also used David, who was the youngest and smallest of his brothers. Seriously, David’s own family overlooked him when Samuel came to anoint the next king. But David did defeat Goliath, became king, and is known as being a man after God’s own heart.
- Gideon and 300 soldiers: God used a small army to defeat an innumerably large army. At the beginning of the day, Gideon started out with about 32,000 soldiers ready for battle, but God told him that he had way too many troops. By the time Gideon actually went into battle, he was only accompanied by 300 soldiers. But God used that small army to defeat the Midianites. You can check out the whole story here.
- A widow and some olive oil. God used a small amount of olive oil to help a widow pay off her husband’s debts. After her husband died, this widow came to Elisha and told him that creditors were coming to collect their debt. And all she had was a small jar of olive oil. After collecting empty jars from her neighbors and doing what Elisha told her to, the widow poured her olive oil into the jars from her neighbors. She filled each and every jar and was able to sell the oil for money.
I could keep going. Nothing and no one is too small for God to use. The Bible shows us over and over again how often God used minor things and small people. But it doesn’t end there.
Jesus is the same today and is still working through little moments, people, and things. I asked a few people about small ways they have seen God working in their lives recently.
Here are just a few stories from people who have seen God move through small moments today.
- Nellie and feelings: My friend, Nellie, experienced God as she started letting herself feel more emotions: “I remember talking to my counselor, and all of a sudden I could feel sadness. I embraced that emotion. From then on, I allowed myself to feel everything in situations rather than lock my emotions up.” God created joy, happiness, and sorrow. Emotions, all of them, are a gift from God, so why not embrace them?
- Sarah and the deer: Sarah had a moment with God outside: “I love nature and animals, and a little while ago, I told God that I really wanted to see a deer. He showed me one when I least expected it. I’m an intern at my dream job, and right now there’s not a position for me at the end of my term. I really feel called here, but one day my mentor helped me realize I may be called for only a season. When I was leaving work that afternoon, I looked at the trees near the parking lot and saw a deer. And in that moment, I felt really serene and at peace. God used that deer to comfort me and remind me that He’s working and cares about me.”
- Robby and his morning showers: My coworker Robby experiences God every morning when he gets to shower: “Do you want to know one of the best parts of my day? It’s my morning shower. I love starting my day with a heart posture of gratitude. God didn’t have to bless me with a shower or fresh, hot water, but He did. I also just think about a friend of mine who told me always to be thankful for toilets; most people in the world don’t have modern plumbing, and so every time he flushes, he’s grateful. So, next time you’re in your bathroom, using any of your plumbing fixtures, thank God.”
- Me and the glitchy Google doc. I was editing an article and needed to transfer it to a different document. When I looked back at it, my paragraphs had disappeared, and all I was left with was one sentence! Panic set in. I knew there was more, but it had vanished. I was really confused. Then I started thinking about how I might appear to God and others sometimes. Jesus came to give us a life of abundance: abundant joy, peace, love, strength, and hope. He’s constantly pouring into us and filling us up. But when other people look at me, which version of the document do I look like? Do they see me thriving in abundance or living in lack?
- Kirby and the game tickets. A friend from my LifeGroup, Kirby, saw God move through a kind act: “I’m a server, and one day, I had a customer really bless my brother and me. My brother had been going through a rough season, and that day in particular wasn’t a great day for him. He walked two miles to see me at work, and I wanted to ‘turn his frown upside down.’ One of my customers had tickets to a big sports game that evening, and for personal reasons, they couldn’t go. Out of the kindness of their heart, they gave me their two tickets—good tickets, in the loge boxes, that came with access to the free food and tent vendors, and included parking passes. God is just so cool in using people like that kind customer to bless others and cheer them up. It was great to see my brother smile again.”
- Jason, his eight-year-old, and a movie. One of my colleagues, Jason, had a moment with God after watching The Hobbit with his family. After the movie was over, he asked his eight-year-old son, Roy, what he had learned. Roy began to think out loud about one of the main characters: “A lot of change happened in Thorin’s life. He started out kind of bad and good, then he was all good, then all bad, and at the end he was good again. So you can make mistakes in your life and still be good—still be a hero.” Imagine how God feels when we, as His children, realize that we can receive His gift of salvation and make a difference regardless of our past.
- Greg and the salt-and-vinegar kettle chips: Another one of my coworkers, Greg, said he saw God working as he was packing a lunch: “I was making my lunch, and I put salt-and-vinegar kettle chips in it. I love those. Do you know what hit me? God didn’t have to give us crunch. We get nourishment from soup and all these other soft things. But He gave us foods with texture. It’s such a blessing to have texture, crunch, and pop in your life. Kettle chips are nourishing and fun at the same time and it’s something small to delight in. It was a profound moment in my morning, realizing that God created these little things that He didn’t have to. Colors. Music. Texture. Jokes. It was a reminder for me to look for those small things to thank God for wherever I can find them.”
God is the same forever. God cared about the small details thousands of years ago, continues to care about little things now, and He’ll keep on caring.
In a talk about seeing God’s presence in the ordinary, author Sharon Garlough Brown talked about why the story of Moses and the burning bush is so powerful (beyond the awesome fact that God spoke to Moses through a bush). She explained it a little like this:
It wasn’t uncommon in the desert climate for bushes to catch fire. Moses could have just brushed it off, but he took the time to look and notice the unusual part, that the bush was not being consumed. God didn’t speak to him until He saw that Moses had stopped and truly looked.
Just as the burning bush could have been seen as commonplace instead of spectacular and magnificent, run-of-the-mill things in our lives may turn into something amazing. God can use a kettle chip, a shower, a movie, a commercial, a book, or anything we experience on a daily basis to speak to us or remind us how awesome He is. God is working. We just have to stop, look, and notice.