Small things–and my dream job

Rez's New Name team members standing behind the gifts donated by WA girls' soccer team

Rez’s New Name team members standing behind the gifts donated by WA girls’ soccer team

I’ve decided what job I want in heaven.

It came to me as I sat with a few other women around a table covered in toiletries, jewelry, lotions, and other small gifts. These items had been donated by the girls on the Wheaton Academy soccer team my husband, Dave, coaches. An annual tournament they play in encourages every team to create a service project, and for the past two years the WA girls have supported New Name, a local ministry that partners with area churches to reach out to and walk alongside women in sex trafficking and adult entertainment industries. Last year they made cards to go into the gift bags that New Name teams deliver. This year they went a step further and purchased items to go into the gift bags. Dave gave up a practice for the girls to shop and then gather back at school to make cards and listen as I told them about New Name’s ministry.

gift driveA few days later the members of my church’s New Name chapter unloaded all the purchases at Church of the Resurrection, and we organized them and packed gift bags for outreach.

We oohed and aahed over the pretty soaps and the jewelry, and I told the group, “You know, one of these gifts may be used specifically by God to open a woman’s heart to Him. In a few weeks the girls who purchased these may not even remember what they bought; they might see what they did today as a small thing, but they may discover when they get to heaven that this very lotion”—I held up the bottle in my hand—“may make an eternal difference. Won’t it be awesome to trace it all back! To see how all our stories connect into the Big Story!” It hit me then, and I said, “That’s the job I want in heaven—to follow the stories of people’s salvation and growth in Christ back to all the ‘small’ things that played parts in it. What an awesome job it would be to write down the creativity of God in weaving it all together!”

In chapter 4 of Zechariah, the angel of the Lord visits Zechariah and gives him a vision that encourages the Israelites to keep on with the slow, laborious work of rebuilding the temple. This new temple is a very small accomplishment when compared to the temple that was destroyed, but the angel says, “Who dares despise the day of small things…?” and he goes on to tell Zechariah that the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth and see each act of obedience.

In Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage, he wrote, ”In God’s work the day of small things is not to be despised. Though the instruments be weak and unlikely, God often chooses such, by them to bring about great things. …Though the beginnings be small, God can make the latter end greatly to increase; a grain of mustard-seed may become a great tree.”

Don’t despise the small things you’re doing. Don’t get discouraged. Keep doing them! Encourage others to persevere as well. Listen as the Spirit leads into seemingly “small things.”

And maybe in heaven I’ll get to write down one paragraph of God’s great story, and we’ll see that each of our “small things” has great significance.

New Name checkBy the way, the tournament directors awarded the top three service projects with a cash prize, and the WA team won first place! They’re donating their $1,000 prize to New Name.

Wrestling (The guilt of simply being human, continued)

And speaking of fighting/wrestling, here are the two boys doing just that--one of their favorite activities.

And speaking of fighting/wrestling, here are the two boys doing just that–one of their favorite activities.

Jacob wrestled with God.

If you grew up on Bible stories, that statement has lost the impact it should have.

Jacob—a human—wrestled—up close and personal—with GOD!

And here’s another thing to ponder: GOD initiated the wrestling.

This blog entry is a follow-up to “The Guilt of Simply Being Human” (2/28/13, just below this one). After I finished my snow walk, I studied Jacob’s story and realized that God invites me to wrestle, too; that, in fact, wrestling is often necessary before I can enjoy the kind of peaceful fellowship described as “dining with Christ” or “being led beside still waters.” This blog entry is simply the way I unpacked the Jacob-wrestling-God story (influenced by Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary [which, by the way, is available for free viewing at and]).

Up until this time of wrestling, Jacob had habitually done things his own way. He was an I’ll pray for God’s blessing, but then do it my own way sort of person.

How do I know this? His whole story tells me this. His name (which means “trickster”) tells me this.

But Jacob was facing a BIG situation; and he knew that all his wonderful trickery could not save him. Oh, he still connived, still planned, but then he cried out to God.

And God came and wrestled with him. And Jacob wouldn’t let go or give up. So God damaged Jacob’s hip and blessed him.

What? To be honest, it seems like a strange story.

I’ve heard people telling this story say things like this: God had to damage Jacob’s hip because Jacob was so strong.

Oh, no!

Jacob was wrestling with a God infinitely stronger than he (Jacob). God had the power to crush Jacob, to annihilate him.

But Jacob was also wrestling with an infinitely good God.

Jacob was not going to say, “Uncle! I give up. I acknowledge that I am human and You? YOU are God! I thought I was pretty good, pretty capable, but then I saw YOU and realized truth.”  Jacob, like so many of us, was far, far, far from recognizing this essential truth.

So God wrestled with him. He held back from using the full extent of His limitless power. He even let Jacob have the upper hand. I don’t fully understand why, but my suspicion is that this was best for Jacob. Perhaps this was the only way that Jacob would learn who God is. This wrestling was specifically chosen because of Jacob’s past and his personality type.

It seems to backfire at first because Jacob thinks he is winning.

But then God tweaked his hip—with a touch!

That was a wake-up call.

God has given us humans a lot of autonomy, and we think we’re doing okay. We think we’re capable.

But it doesn’t take much to remind us of the limitations of our humanity.

Suddenly Jacob realizes, “Oh, no, He let me have the upper hand. This is way bigger than I ever imagined. I’ve been playing with God, and He is too great to play with.”

But even though Jacob wrestled out of limited knowledge, Scripture actually commends him for wrestling with God. It commends him for not letting go.

It commends him because Jacob learned SO much when he wrestled with God.

When Jacob demands a blessing from God, Jacob learns instead who he himself is. God asks him a simple question: “What is your name?”

When Jacob answers, he realizes his own nature, because when he says “Jacob,” he is essentially admitting, “I am a trickster, a schemer, a swindler.”

But Jacob still has more to learn. Ever the comparer, always wanting to assess the situation and see how he stands, he then asks, “What is YOUR name?”

But God simply said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” In other words, do you really need to ask? Don’t you ‘get it’?

Jacob must have; he didn’t say anything else, and when God blessed him, Jacob accepted it. The GREATER always blesses the lesser in Scripture. So by accepting the blessing, Jacob was finally saying, “I give myself to You. You are God, and I am not. I am nothing like You, and I need you.”

THAT was what God wanted to Jacob to learn. So, finally, after a full night of wrestling, Jacob is ready to face the situation that had so terrified him the night before. Jacob names that place Peniel: “the face of God,” and he went on his way knowing that he carried the blessing of God with him: he now knew through experience that the all-powerful God would never fail him.

And here's how it ends (usually)--collapsed in laughter!

And here’s how it ends (usually)–collapsed in laughter!

Man, I wish I were less like Jacob. I wish I didn’t need to wrestle, again and again, to come to knowledge. But God not only knows what I need to learn, He also knows the best way for me to learn it.

And He is willing to even wrestle with me, if that is what it takes.

God wrestling with a human! AMAZING!