With all that is happening in the world right now, it is easy for us to be overwhelmed by the massive global events. Be honest, don’t you feel some trepidation about all that is going on? As darkness rises, it frequently draws our attention to the colossal problems around us. This leaves us feeling frustrated, depressed and without hope. Never has this been more clear than in these past 4 months. However, regardless of the overbearing occurrences that happen around us, it is important to remember that in the life of faith, little things mean a lot.
Getting down to the roots
Those who have never experienced a journey of faith through the wilderness often misunderstand what the wilderness looks like and what it is for. Some glamorize, some diminish, but most simply mistake the wilderness for plain old suffering. These people equate the normal suffering we experience in ‘Egypt’ with the wilderness, but that is not so. The wilderness is a very special place with a specific job. To put it bluntly, the job of the wilderness is to expose our ‘self’ nature to its very roots. We can then repent and put our entire trust on the person of Jesus.
Because of this demanding job description, God Himself leads us through the barren places of the wilderness. At the time, the trials we face are unpleasant, but they train us to trust our God completely as He destroys our trust in our ‘self’. These trials are not the fireworks one would expect or imagine, but more subtle and humble. It is easy to miss the many ways God tries to lead us. We often overlook the little ways in which His lessons arrive.
Turning off the noise
As God leads us through the wilderness, we learn to turn off the obnoxious voices in the media that blare their hateful, evil propaganda. In the ensuing silence we can hear His still, humble voice beckoning us to follow Jesus. We admit this takes training and effort. If we attune our spiritual senses to hear our Lord, however, this becomes easier. What we have learned is most of the time God will lead us through the little things. These are the small, insignificant things, we too often miss to our detriment. It is in these tiny areas where we make the most progress in faith.
A small detour
For instance, late this past January I was out walking our dog, Milo, in the field nearby the motel. I rarely do this, especially as the field is filled with snow in winter and the day was a frigid -34°C. However, this day I made an exception. As I walked, I spied a furry object shivering on a metal plate behind one of the rooms. That furry object, I supposed, was a feral cat with no home.
We could not stand by and watch any animal suffer in such brutal conditions, so I went back and fed this scared, hissing animal. The poor, malnourished beast gobbled up the meat I offered. The next day, I brought some more. We then made a cardboard house for it so it would be warm. After several weeks, three cat houses and many feedings later, we realized the cat had been abandoned. With no one to take her in, we did.
Faith leads to sacrifice
Now we have 2 cats, 1 dog and a bird in the 400 square feet we share with our two adult daughters. It is crowded to say the least but we could not leave this cat to die outside. We named our newest addition Will Feral. She is not a feral feline, however, but a mistreated house cat who only wants to be warm, fed, and loved. She still hisses and growls some, but she loves to play and is becoming quite affectionate. To our family she is beautiful and well loved. God has brought joy and life to us after all we have lost. We owe all of this to a minor detour I took on a frigid January morning. These are some of the little ways God leads us to share His love with His creation.
Even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him
Another example of God leading in the little things came to us around the same time as Miss Feral. After saving some of our funds, we sacrificed and bought our youngest daughter a new laptop in January. Since there is little to do in this tiny room, a laptop is a vital necessity. The sacrifice was worth it for us. The day after we ordered it; the computer arrived. Our daughter’s joy, however, would be short-lived.
A few days later, as our daughter sat down at her tiny desk with her drink, she bumped into the table with her knee. The ensuing spillage spread over her new laptop and onto the keys, causing them to fail. Since I have technical skills, I took the laptop apart and tried to correct the problem, but to no avail. After several weeks, we finally realized it would need a costly repair which could not be avoided. In early April, with a downcast heart and full of tears, our youngest daughter sent away her beloved laptop not knowing what would happen.
A falling dream
Way back in 2006, well before we began our journey into the wilderness, I had a dream about what would happen to us in the future. In this dream, a tornado destroyed our home. It took my family and me high into the sky. I knew my life was over, so closed my eyes tight as I fell. After a long time, I got very bored with falling and opened my eyes. There I saw some maple leaves on the ground in a mathematical equation. Then I heard, “I’ll take numbers from the bottom and add them to the top to make up the difference.” Finally, I heard the number 590.
The cost of the little things
The 590 I heard in the dream has always been a mystery to us until now. When Fanny sent her computer away we did not know how much the bill would be. Soon after sending it away the repair depot emailed us. The cost of the damage would be $590. We were shocked but then remembered the dream I had so many years before. The little thing God mentioned in my dream so many years ago had come to pass. This indicated we are near the end of our wilderness. The final total was $666. This was all the money we had but we are confident God will restore what we have lost. Once again, we sacrificed so our daughter could work. It was a small price to pay for the lessons learned. Our faith is growing in this wilderness because we are seeing the little ways God is leading and providing for us.
A baby squirrel, a car, and a lesson
Our last example of the little ways in which God moves to lead us in this wilderness happened just today. This time, the messenger was a baby squirrel just outside our door. I cannot say what brought him here, but he stayed for a long while just by our door and car. When I went to check on how he was doing, he disappeared under the car. Crouching down to look, instead of seeing the squirrel I saw a large oil slick under our engine.
I am no mechanic, nor am I mechanically inclined, so this leak was troublesome. Our 2000 Honda Civic has seen many issues in the past five years. We have lost two shock absorbers, a door lock, muffler, air conditioning, power steering, a failing battery, perpetually flat front tire, rust everywhere and we almost ran out of oil a few weeks back. The gas line also broke a few years ago. I patched the line but it always leaks now. At least our 22-year-old car still runs. For five years, as bad as the car is to drive, God has always kept us moving. That is, until today.
A tough brake
As I checked on the origin of the leak, I noticed that we no longer have any brake fluid. With no more money because of the laptop repair, and no expertise to fix the issue, we are at a loss. For the first time in 5 years, we are now truly and effectively grounded. However, if God had not sent a baby squirrel to our door, I doubt I would have known about our brake issue. By paying attention to the little things God has spared us from a potentially serious accident.
You might be surprised to learn these hardships we experienced have not dampened our enthusiasm for following God, but have only strengthened it. Because we have learned faith by watching for the little ways in which He leads us, we know He is with us, continually providing, even in crisis situations. We also know that the wilderness is not our destination. It is only the path we need to take to get there. Our destination is our personal Promised Land.
Little things mean a lot
Faith is rarely about the grand, glorious, magnificent displays of power and miracles. More often, faith is simply seeing and hearing God in the seemingly insignificant events of our lives. The events we most often overlook. This is the faith that is experiential and alive, not mere mental assent devoid of life. Our growth into spiritual maturity, character and intimacy with Jesus is dependent on being able to hear His voice in the little things. This is how faith grows.
It takes time, practice and humility to hear the still, small voice of God. It takes effort to see His hand in the myriad of tiny events around us. We understand the struggle. If we persevere, however, God will be faithful to lead us. If we continue on our path Jesus will lead us through a wilderness where we learn to depend utterly on Him alone. May you too learn to see God in the little things.
Homer and Wanda