I hate that the little things matter. I would like it better if I could get away with the Little Things as long as I do the one or two Big Things. But this is not how God set it up.
I’ve been working in my listening and obeying habits lately mostly because I had the impression it would be exciting and we would go exciting places. But so far the instructions have been mostly boring: send a message to that person, take it easy today, don’t eat that chocolate, stop running.
Really. I was doing my morning run, which I am trying to work back up to after some health problems slowed it to a walk. So I get a few minutes in, felling pretty capable, and I feel like God’s asking me to stop. So I did. I mean, not immediately, it seemed like a small thing and who cares if I’m running or walking?
My mom told me that when I was little I had a hard time obeying. So she started to do this thing at home where I would “practice obeying.” She would give me the simplest of tasks — come to her from across the room, bring her a book, go close a door. She would run through these little things in a low-stakes environment with the idea that I would be more likely to come to her when I was at the store or give back a toy I had taken. Also, she took away my excuse that I didn’t know any better, so that was too bad.
I suspect God took notes at that point and is employing the same technique. Because at 36, I’m still having a hard time with obeying.
I had been doing moderately well with laying off the chocolate and sending the messages and resting or running as instructed, but then the weekend hit (you get weekends off of obeying, right?) and I got sick and received some tough family news and so the little things looked a lot like unimportant things.
I was at Costco today and I was actually leaving with enough time to load up my groceries and get to my son’s school before he got out (when does that ever happen?!) when I saw a friend I hadn’t talk to in a long time. I kept walking. Here’s the dialogue:
God: You shoulda said ‘hi’ to her! You miss her!
Me: Nope, already walked past, see?
God: Yeah, but I want you to.
Me: Well, sure, but I’m too tired to talk and plus, I’m sick and I don’t want her to get it and also I don’t want to be late.
God: But this is your chance!
Me: Yeah, and I missed it. Too bad. I’ll do better next time.
God: She’s right back there. You can turn around.
Me: Serious?! That’s nuts. No, I’ll take a fail on this one.
God: Do it.
And I turned around and marched my cart back to where she was and said ‘hi.’ We hugged and talked for a few minutes and it was home to see her face and hear her voice. Obviously God knew what I needed.
Here is the thing. As I left the store, I remembered how this morning I asked God to give me words to write today. I had a good day and I listened all day long. Nothing. Zero inspiration much less any ideas that I could possibly riff off of. But this incident reminded me that I had wanted to write about obeying in the small things. (And how I had mastered it, haha!) God wanted to answer my prayer, but I had to obey — in an situation that seemed completely unrelated.
See. The little things matter. The little things are the important things. They’re easy to miss, and dismiss, but they’re our training wheels. We ask God to give us these big assignments and make these vows to follow him to the farthest places, but we can’t get to those farthest places if we refuse to turn our cart ten feet to the left for a quick ‘hello.’
I get it now. For today.