Saturday, January 28, 2006

Small Things Change the World

Do not despise these small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven. (Matthew 13:33)

If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move form here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible. (Matthew 17:20)
This is how the world works. Everything begins as a seed, a bit of leaven, seemingly small and insignificant. Consider the Creation, for example: God spoke a little word and the worlds were framed.

Mathematicians have developed an explanation to address how the world hinges on small beginnings. It is called Chaos Theory, “sensitive dependence upon initial conditions.” The classic paradigm is that the beating of a butterfly’s wings in Beijing can affect the weather patterns over Central Park in New York.

Bankers and investment counselors expound on the miracles of compound interest, the snowballing effect of a little bit of interest accumulating over time.

In the beginning, God created a man and a woman and gave them this amazing assignment: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion” (Genesis 1:28). Quite a job description for the very first couple, and yet eminently doable in the providence of God.

Jesus said “The kingdom of God is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33). The leaven, though very small, eventually works throughout all the dough. The kingdom of God works in the same way.

Jesus also compared the kingdom to a mustard seed, “which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matthews 13:31-32).

Faith, too, is like a mustard seed, He said. A little bit goes a long way — if you plant it. Mountains move. In fact, Jesus made a statement so startling that we gloss over it as hyperbole, but it is not. He said, “Nothing will be impossible!”

We don’t really need to understand how it happens, we just need to know that it happens. Jesus said,
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come. (Mark 4:26-29)
Have you ever noticed in a vegetable garden, how a gardener will often take the empty seed packet and put it on a stake at the end of the row? Carrots, cabbage, peas. Why does he do that? It is not for the benefit of the seed, but simply to help him keep track of what is planted where. The seed already knows what it is, and that is how it will come up, regardless of how the rows are marked.

The seed carries its destiny within itself, and the soil knows what to do with it. Our job is simply to be faithful — full of faith — to sow the seed. In its proper time, it will begin to breakthrough the soil, to grow and develop, to bud and blossom and bring forth fruit. When the fruit ripens, there is harvest — much greater than the seed that was sown.

Start small, finish big. Take your faith and plant it. Speak the Word of God over you life, over your world. Believe the leaven and watch it work. Scatter your seed freely. The world waits in sensitive dependence upon the initial conditions of your heart, so turn your heart in faith to the Lord, and nothing will be impossible.