Small beginnings. They don’t sound too impressive. We like things to start big, with lots of fanfare, plenty of buzz ahead of time on social media, and lots of publicity followed by an impressive launch. We start a new year with big ideas of all the things we will do better this time. We change jobs or locations feeling positive that now our lives will improve.
Small beginnings. What good can possibly come from such meager expectations? Who would ever notice? How can these offer hope to anyone? How could they ever turn a profit or contribute to society?
Maybe they don’t. Maybe. But God views them differently. He delights to see our hearts turn to His purpose and His way. Just turn. He loves to hear us bring that worry we can’t let go of to Him. Will our hearts stay true? Will we forsake that worry forever? Probably not. Not perfectly.
We each have things that continue to rear their ugly heads in our lives and distract us, worry us, or make us stumble into sin. I read a quote by St. Benedict that goes like this. “Always we begin again.” Always. That means that every time we find ourselves in a state of unrest or sin we can begin again. Start over. Confess. Repent. Trust Jesus again. Maybe for the third time this week, maybe for the tenth time this hour. It doesn’t matter. Begin again.
That is why the mercies of God are described as “new every morning”. We need fresh mercy. Always. Again. God loves this turning of our hearts back to Him. He sees us returning like the father saw His prodigal walking home, and He runs to meet us.
Parents are thrilled to see their baby take his or her first steps. Of course, they anticipate that the child will walk better and better, run, jump, and become fully developed in that skill.
But they delight in those first steps. Small beginnings. In walking with the Lord we will learn to abide in Him and grow in grace that will give us the power to walk according to His will. It will happen; He has promised. But first come the small beginnings, and He delights in them.
It is only by these starts, stops, and starting agains that we grow and develop, just like a child must keep starting over to learn to walk. Even Jesus is no stranger to small beginnings. He came as a baby to parents whose names had been the stuff of scandal. He was born in a stable. Even as an adult, people still wondered if anything good could have come from Nazareth. He laid aside the power of His divinity to exist as a man dependent on the Holy Spirit. Not only were His beginnings small, He ended up executed like a criminal. No parade, no honor, only a borrowed grave which He fortunately only needed for a short time. The creator of the universe understands small beginnings and misunderstood lives.
We are smaller people than we think, and in our short 70-80 years, we don’t really know very much. Perhaps we would be wise to think less about the grand purpose of our lives and how to achieve it, and think more about this moment and how to turn to God right here and now. Then turn to Him again in a few minutes. And again… Small beginnings. Always we begin again.
Zechariah 4:10; 1 John 1:9; Lamentations 3:22-23; Luke 15:11-32; John 1:46