[forthright] Great Things from Small Beginnings

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 04 Aug 2007 13:50:06 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Field Notes

Great Things from Small Beginnings
by Michael E. Brooks

"Another parable He put to them, saying: 'The
kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a
man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is
the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown
it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree,
so that the birds of the air come and nest in its
branches'" (Matthew 13:31-32).

Ibon Halder and I, after many invitations, finally
arranged to eat dinner with a government worker in
Khulna, Bangladesh with whom we had been doing
business. When we sat at the table, Ibon looked at
my place setting and then asked our host if I
could be given eating utensils. The normal
practice in most of South Asia is to eat with
one's hands. I can do that, but prefer a good
fork. This was provided, but then the host made a
brief remark to Ibon, at which he laughed. I asked
what was so funny, and Ibon responded, "He wants
to know how you can eat with such a small fork and
get so fat!"

We are often amazed at the accomplishments of
others who begin with very little.  In the middle
of the last century, Sam Walton was the owner of
only one small town "5 and 10 cent" store. Yet his
vision and drive built what has become the largest
retail chain in the world. Helen Keller was blind,
deaf, and considered deranged, yet became a model
of achievement and humanitarian good. Other
examples are abundant.

In spite of this evidence, we remain suspicious
and unconvinced. If someone succeeds, it is
because of advantages (birth, station, inherited
wealth, etc.) that the unsuccessful do not have.
Or it is because he acted immorally and illegally.
"No one can get that much money honestly" is a
common prejudice. But it is often wrong. People do
accomplish much, through effort, character, and
the diligent application of their abilities. Even
more is accomplished when these are joined by
trust in God.

"Little is much when God is in it." This is not a
Bible verse, but it is definitely a Biblical
principle. "All things work together for good to
those who love God, to those who are the called
according to His purpose.... If God is for us, who
can be against us?... Yet in all these things we
are more than conquerors through Him who loved us"
(Romans 8:28,31,37).

One of the great doctrines of Christianity is that
all have been given talents or gifts by Christ
(Ephesians 4:7ff; Romans 12:3ff). Whoever we are,
regardless of sex, age, education, or economic
class, we have the ability to serve God and to
benefit others. The Church's full potential can
only be reached when "every part does its share"
(Ephesians 4:16). The Church, or Kingdom as Jesus
often called it, began with his few disciples, but
within decades had spread to "the remotest parts
of the earth" (Acts 1:8).  It grew through the
efforts of "uneducated and untrained men" (Acts
4:13). These "handicaps" did not hinder them,
however, because they also had great faith in God,
and their work received his blessing.

Each of us may feel weak and inadequate at times.
That is when we need to remember the tiny mustard
seed. It doesn't look like much, but, oh, what
potential is contained within it. The life of the
mustard plant is a gift of God. It cannot grow
without his help. So it is with us. Whatever
talents, resources, or opportunities we possess
are entrusted to us by him. It is when we
recognize that and enlist his help that great
things may result.

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