Let the Little Moments Linger
Vanessa Le is a wife and mom to four children age five and under. She enjoys reading, playing the piano, studying theology, and generally being Mommy. She is a member of Orlando Reformed Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida.
Sometimes I have a problem with little moments. I can identify with the little boat Scuffy in the children’s book Scuffy the Tugboat. In the book, Scuffy is discontent with his life in a toy store. He repeatedly says, “I was meant for bigger things.” Of course, he goes on to discover that the brook that turns into a river that flows into the ocean is really waaaay too big for a toy tugboat. He is so relieved when the little boy from the toy store comes to rescue him and brings him back to the bathtub where he belongs.
Perhaps you have felt this tension in your life as well. We are told that we can be whomever we want; we can pick whatever career interests us; we can change the world. Then, when we pursue our passions (or when we go with the smart, practical decision), sometimes things don’t end up being quite what we envisioned. Are we meant for bigger things?
I’ve often wondered how exactly to put this verse into practice: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”(Eph. 5:16). In high school I felt the call to missions, the pull to teach others and to disciple people in the ways of the Lord. Then I married an ordinary man with an ordinary job and we’ve settled in an ordinary town (though our four young children are quite extraordinary!) And I’m often left wondering how exactly to serve God in the mundane.
Many days I feel that all I do are little things. And, truth be told, many occupations are like that. We work in a world made up of little moments. Perhaps it’s caring for an ailing parent or driving a truck or waking up at 1am to work that early shift. Perhaps it’s praying for a friend when you are far away and cannot lift a hand to help. Perhaps it’s watching the sunset or marveling at a bug or bird you see. For many if not all of us, there are not a lot of big, defining moments in life.
Big, No, Little, No, Nevermind
Even the moments that we celebrate as “big” could really count as little. When our kids are little, it’s that first tooth, first smile, first time they roll over. By the time they are three years old, those things are not that big anymore. There are moments that stand out in our memories - the day we get a driver’s license, the day we join a church, the day we take our marriage vows. Yet hopefully, in the big scheme of things, those big moments are really just a little start to something better- a lifetime of responsible driving, a godly church preaching the gospel every week for decades, a marriage built on love and grace and sacrifice.
So here’s the question: Do the little moments matter? All throughout the Bible you will find the answer to be a resounding “Yes!” God delights to use the little moments and the little things to glorify Himself and bring His people into glory. God Himself creates and sustains all of creation through an innumerable supply of little moments. “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name” (Psalm 147:4). “God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (I Cor. 1:27).
What Is A Good Work?
So how do we know if we are doing a good and meaningful work? Is it good to preach the gospel? Watch the sunset? Change a baby’s diaper? In the history of the church, there was an era where many missionaries went to do “missionary work” and sent their children off to boarding school. The missionaries who were in charge at the boarding school often felt that their assignment was inferior to those on the front lines. They took their resentment and frustration out on the children, who grew up terribly hurt and deeply confused.
Looking back, we can easily say that the missionaries neglected an important calling. Were their children somehow less important than the unreached peoples? Perhaps this is where the issue of calling comes in. Are you called to be a missionary? That may be difficult to ascertain. Are you called to be married? Again, discerning this should be wrestled with at length; but if you have taken vows, then no question remains. If you are married and a parent, then it is absolutely certain that God has called you to this spouse and to these children – which means that changing that diaper is the good and meaningful work that He has called to do!
Now, I’m not saying that you should never aspire to a different vocation or seek to ascertain if God is calling you in a different direction. But the first step should be to start with the clear callings that are right in front of you. If you can’t take out the garbage cheerfully, you should not expect to be able to faithfully serve the Lord on the opposite side of the world. (And guess what? Missionaries have to take out the garbage too.)
Bringing Little Moments Into Glory
Now, the challenge is to take these little moments and bring them into glory. I have made it my goal to constantly point my children to Jesus. My oldest child is five, so for us this means a lot of little conversations. We see the sunset and talk about the God who made it. We invite friends over and pray about the visit. We discipline and talk about what God requires of children. We apologize when we sin and talk about what God requires of parents. The wonderful part of all these little conversations is that I am beginning to see Jesus in so many little things. I can wonder with my children about the power of the God who commands the wind and sea. I can see the little steps of obedience forming a godly character for life. I am reminded that He is in and near the little things; He loves to spend His time with little ones, “for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14).
God doesn’t command us to do big things for Him. Rather, He commands us to become as little children. When asked to grant two of His disciples a great big favor, His response was to call them to suffer with Him, and conclude with, “But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). He delights to use the weak, the insignificant, and the downtrodden for His glory. His goal isn’t about what we can accomplish but about making us holy. He taught us by example. He didn’t hold onto His own glory but gave it up to become the littlest of the little – a baby born into a world of suffering, He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).
I have not given up my goal of reaching others with the gospel. I have not forsaken teaching others and discipling them. However, the method is different than I envisioned. For right now, I have set my sights on lots of littles. Little moments, little treasures, little hands and little tears. And in the great big scheme of things I know that I am heard; I am remembered. God is God and I am not; and He loves to look on little.
Let the little moments linger.