January 11, 2021
It's Okay to Start Small This Year
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)
Friend to Friend
Do you ever feel like only the “big” things in life matter? It can seem that way, especially around the New Year when everyone is setting goals and making resolutions. But God has a different perspective, one that can free our hearts.
Almost three years ago we moved to a new home with a little pond behind it. When the weather is nice we can hear bullfrogs declaring love and war. Turtles sun themselves like movie stars circled around a pool. And, one evening last spring, a pair of Canadian geese appeared like guests checking into their favorite bed and breakfast.
We watched the two of them build a nest. For twenty-eight days the female faithfully sat on it, undisturbed even by harsh wind and torrential rain. From my perspective it seemed absolutely nothing was happening. But one morning seven fuzzy yellow goslings appeared. Over the next few months we watched them waddle, then swim, then finally take flight toward their next adventure.
As I consider this new year I’m thinking of our pair of geese because I am prone to grand resolutions and big plans. I write down in my journal that this will be the year I do all the things. I focus on the outcome and get frustrated when my progress is small or slow.
But Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” As a prophet and priest, Zechariah is speaking to the people of Judah, who have recently returned from exile in Babylon. They’re rebuilding the Temple, a huge task that likely seemed overwhelming and discouraging at times.
Yet God tells them through Zechariah that He isn’t just focused on the final result, the small beginning brings Him joy too. God also reminds His people that the work doesn’t depend on them. A few verses before the one above says, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit (Zechariah 4:6, NLT).
I think of the goose on her nest again and how much is happening beyond her control. Her role is to remain steadfast, practice patience, and do what she can each day--which sometimes looks like not much at all. We serve a God not of resolutions but real solutions, not of trends but of timeless truth, not of striving but of trusting.
Oh, I’m still all for dreaming. It’s fun and inspiring to imagine what could be. But there are two things that I want to do differently this January.
First, instead of only thinking of the ultimate goal, which might be months away, I want to pause and ask, “What’s one small step God is asking me to take today?” Sometimes this will mean embracing the quiet and the waiting, letting patience have its way and do its work.
I also, most importantly, want to ask God to be the one who equips and empowers me. My typical strategy is “do more, try harder” but God’s invitation to us is, “strive less, trust deeper.” Like the people rebuilding the Temple and the goose on her nest we’re all part of the process. On the days when progress is slow and so much feels beyond our control, we can rest in knowing our role is obedience; God’s role is results.
Dear Lord, I’m often tempted to strive for bigger and better. Thank You for being the God of small things! Please empower me to follow where You lead this year, even when that means patiently waiting and embracing the quiet. I trust that You know best and Your timing is perfect. This year, instead of trying harder, I will trust deeper.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What is one small step you can take today?
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Do you need an extra dose of encouragement to take your next small step in light of God’s love for you? Are you entering 2021 already weary and worn down? If so, Holley has a free gift for you! Enter your email here to receive 5 of her devotions from her book Hope Your Heart Needs: 52 Encouraging Reminders of How God Cares for You.
© 2021 by Holley Gerth. All rights reserved.