“…So the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, ‘Let not all the men go up, but let about two thousand or three thousand go up and attack Ai; do not make the whole army toil up there, for they of Ai are few. So about three thousand Israelites went up there, but they fled before the men of Ai.’”
Joshua 7: 2 - 4
“Be great in little things.”
What things in my life have I considered “little” only to find out later they mattered a great deal?
“Paper work, cleaning the house, cooking the meals, dealing with innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently – which is to find some meaning in all these encounters – these things too are the work of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much….”
Luke 16: 10
New International Version
In order to have a quiet sanctuary where I could be alone to work on the daily devotionals here at Transformation Garden, Jim and I converted a walk-in closet in our home into my little sacred space.
There were already shelves that now house all my reference books and Bibles and there was just enough space for my “writing” chair and desk.
Several months after I’d gotten settled into my little nest, I opened the door to my room and it was like I was entering a sauna. The space, which has an air-conditioning vent, was so humid and hot it was unbearable. As I walked around on the carpet, I realized there was a squishing sound, like splash, splash. All of a sudden I noticed the carpet was very wet and with further checking, I found a tiny little pin-hole on the wall.
After going outside the house and opening the door to the large cabinet where the water heater is stored, I found, to my dismay, there was a tiny little spurt of water coming out of one of the copper pipes and this little flow of water was hitting the wall into my writing room. Over time, that small spurt of water had made a tiny, almost invisible hole in the wall. Who knows how long this had been going on but it created a big mess on the floor in my private sanctuary.
What amazed me was how little all these holes were. It wasn’t like a horrific hurricane had flooded our home; it was a tiny hole, in a pipe, that let a tiny flow of water make a tiny hole in the wall. In the end, all the carpeting had to be removed and part of an entire wall replaced.
When I was growing up, one of my school teachers read this text from Song of Solomon 2: 15, and I want to share the translation of this passage from Young’s Literal Translation, “Seize ye for us foxes, little foxes – destroyers of vineyards, even our sweet-smelling vineyards.” I didn’t understand what this text meant until one summer when I was at my grandparent’s ranch in the Arizona desert. Grandma took me out to her garden one afternoon and helped me climb over the “hog-wire,” as she called it, that surrounded her plot of earth where squash and melons were growing on healthy vines. As we approached the garden, Grandma gasped when she found a place where some animal had dug under the fence and had a delicious supper eating on her melons. Grandma told me it was the small animals she had the most trouble with because they could get under the wire fence much easier.
This is exactly what happens in my life, too!
The big problems, the big sins – they are easy to spot. Like Jericho, they are huge and imposing. It is quite obvious to me I can’t take on Jericho by myself. So I ask God for help. But then, I ignore a city like Ai. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Those small little problems that up-end our days. Those pesky sins that are easy to ignore because everybody’s doing it. Sins like pride or arrogance. Everybody’s proud. And arrogance – well, that’s how people get ahead in our dog-eat-dog world.
This is what happened to the Israelites. They knew full well they couldn’t bring down and conquer Jericho on their own. For a challenge that large they definitely needed God’s help. But Ai, that was a whole other ballgame. After their spies went up to the city, they came back to Joshua and reported that taking Ai would be a walk in the park. In fact, they concluded they shouldn’t take but just a few men in the army. Why wear out the entire army? Without consulting God or asking for His help, they headed off to Ai and fell flat on their faces.
Ai was a little village and so are many of the things we do each day, good and bad. But it is the little foxes that spoil the vines, just as the Bible reminds us it is the little deeds, done diligently, that make us worthy of our Father’s trust as we handle the larger tasks He has for us.
During the next few days, we’ll learn from God’s children the lessons of Ai, for they are so pertinent to our lives today – just another example of the timeless way Biblical truths help us live the life God has planned for each of us.
And today, let us not forget there are no little things in life. Just as soon as we call something insignificant, like a tiny spurt of water hitting the wall of my room, we’ll find that the little stream of water, has done severe damage.
“Attention to little things is a great thing.”
“Lord, help me to enjoy the little things of my everyday life.
I often find myself saying that nothing happened today,
When in fact the ordinary, little events of my life make a rich pattern,
but they are so familiar I hardly notice them;
things like a cup of tea and a meal shared with friends and colleagues;
or listening to favorite family stories that we have heard and told so often.
Lord of life, help me to recognize the joy of little things.”
The Lion Prayer Collection