Big or Small; Easy or Hard – God Opens All Types of Doors
by John Ortberg
One of the most crippling myths about God is that he is like some human CEO, so busy running a vast enterprise that the activities of someone as small and insignificant as me must not be the object of his attention. In this myth’s thinking, I believe there are spiritual movers and shakers out there who may have great adventures with divine doors, but I shouldn’t expect that for myself. I am either not spiritual enough or not significant enough.
In the Old Testament an official named Zerubbabel was trying to get the Temple rebuilt after years of exile and neglect. He was able to manage only a meager start, which was quickly overwhelmed by opposition from without and depression from within. He felt discouraged and like a failure. But through the prophet Zechariah came myth-shattering words: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, nlt).
No project is so great that it doesn’t need God. No project is so small that it doesn’t interest God.
When we are born, our world is very small. As we grow, it may become quite large. If we live long enough and grow old enough, it will become small again. If we do not learn to find God in our small worlds, we will never find God at all.
Do not despise the day of small things. One of those Bible verses that is hard to find is “‘I love grandiosity,’ saith the Lord.” Mother Teresa used to advise, “Don’t try to do great things for God. Do small things with great love.”
Do not despise the day of small things, for of such is the Kingdom of God. A small thing is like a mustard seed, which in the Kingdom will be great indeed but looks small and insignificant to human eyes. It is like yeast, which eventually will permeate and transform everything but to us appears the smallest of ingredients. Babies and mangers appear small and insignificant—but that is how God comes to us.
Jesus mostly did small things. He talked with obscure individuals—a Samaritan woman at the well, a disgraced prostitute, a tax collector. He hung out with children so unimportant that his disciples tried to shoo them away. His final miracle before his trial and crucifixion was to replace a sliced-off ear.
We have no idea what is big or small in God’s eyes. Do not despise the day of small things. For that, too, is the day the Lord has made. And that is where we find him.
If “easy” is my criterion for door judging, then every time I hit “hard,” I will be filled with doubt about God, myself, and my choice. But an open door does not promise an easy life.
In fact, when God calls people to go through open doors, what generally happens is life gets much harder. Abraham leaves home and faces uncertainty and danger. Moses has to confront Pharaoh and endure endless whining from his own people. Elijah runs away from a power-crazed queen. Esther has to risk her life to prevent genocide. The entire book of Nehemiah is arranged around resistance to Nehemiah’s work that is both external and internal.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that “a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9, nrsv). Not just a door—a wide door. You could drive a truck through it. But Paul took the presence of resistance and opposition as a confirmation that this was the door God had opened for him.
Trouble avoidance is tempting but not ennobling. Spiritual maturity is being able to face troubles without being troubled. At the end of our lives, it’s the troubles we faced for the sake of a greater cause that will have the greatest meaning.
Jesus did not say, “My assignment will be easy.” Rather, he said, “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9).
He did not say, “The world will be easy.” Rather, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
Jesus used the word easy only once. But it wasn’t about our circumstances. The same Jesus who said, “I am the door” (John 10:7, kjv) also said, “My yoke is easy” (Matthew 11:30).
He did not say, “I’ll give you an easy life.” He said, “I’ll give you an easy yoke.” Taking on a rabbi’s yoke was a metaphor for taking on his way of life. Jesus said that taking his yoke—arranging our lives to be constantly receiving power and transforming grace from the Father—would lead to a new internal experience of peace and well-being with God. In other words, easy doesn’t come from the outside. It comes from the inside. “Easy” doesn’t describe my problems. It describes the strength from beyond myself with which I can carry my problems.
Jesus’ offer is ease of spirit on the inside, the presence of peace and joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. If I aim at easy on the inside, I can withstand hard on the outside. If I aim at easy on the outside, I will get ease neither outside nor inside.
Taken from All the Places to Go by John Ortberg Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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