They Said It Couldn’t Be Done
It was 1848! And, someone suggested a bridge across the Niagara. Imagine it! A bridge! Where the canyon walls were so steep, and the rapids so wild! A bridge? “What will they think of next?”
Now, just think of it. It would save miles and miles of travel, and it would solve many problems.
But was it possible?
Could it be?
And, if so, how were they to begin?
With the walls so steep – and the rapids so fierce, how would they ever get the first strand across from cliff to cliff?
And then, someone had a bright idea. They would offer a ten-dollar prize to the kid who could fly a kite from one side to the other. And, yes, that’s how the very first string got across the chasm!
That string was connected to a larger string, and it, in turn, was connected to a slender cable, and the slender cable was connected to a stronger cable – and that, is what made the entire construction possible!
And you guessed it! When the project was first announced, the critics had laughed at the whole thought of it. When they heard that a kite was going to solve the problem, the sophisticated engineers had a field day!
But, history had the last laugh! One young boy, Homan Walsh by name, flew the first string across the chasm with his kite – and the process began – working out just as it had been envisioned! Homan collected his ten dollars … and the great suspension bridge was started – with a single string on a kite!
And that’s just how it is with God’s kingdom. It begins with the little things! That’s what it says in our Gospel lesson this morning. That’s what Jesus is saying with the two stories about seeds. That it begins with the little things.
But he tells us even more! He tells us that the reality of the kingdom is achieved by God’s power – not ours!
In the first parable, the farmer plants the seed and harvests the results. However, the seeds and the land go about their divinely ordered tasks without human aid or supervision. You see, all of the growing lies in the strong and silent hands of God. Yes, we do have a part to play – but Jesus is saying that we are not to overestimate our role.
In the second parable, we are told how the kingdom will grow to grand proportions – like the mustard seed which grows into a shrub in Galilee that often measures 8 to 10 feet high.
In both cases, the story begins with the little things – the seeds. And, it is the mystery of God’s power at work that brings about the results … far beyond our wildest imaginings.
So it is with many an instance recorded for us in scripture. Take, for instance, Abraham! He must have wondered what God was up to. He probably thought: Are you serious, Lord? Did I hear you correctly?
Today his response might have sounded something like this: You say you want me to withdraw my money from the bank, pull up my stakes, leave the friends I have grown up with – and move to a “somewhere land” which has no name? You must be kidding, Lord.
And, to top that all off, God didn’t give Abraham a road atlas or a U-Haul trailer. All he had to go on was faith – as God called the wandering Aramean to begin putting one foot in front of the other – and begin the journey of a nation. It’s the little things that count – that putting of one foot in front of the other.
But, even more remarkable than that, was the fact that Abraham, and Sarah, were not in the prime of their lives. Abraham was seventy-five years old! Yet, he was mobilized by God to carve out a highway built on faith – faith in the little things – and in the power of God.
Statistically, he should have failed.
But, he didn’t.
And what about some of the other people we meet in scripture – like David, the pre-teen shepherd boy who took down the mighty Goliath with five stones and a slingshot. And, remember Moses, the stuttering herdsman, who by a personal call from God, was directed to liberate his nation from a two-thousand-year-old dynasty!
All of these began with the little things – and were accomplished by the power of God.
Take again the lives of some people who are a little closer to our own history:
Walt Disney – who was fired from his first job because he didn’t have any good ideas!
Thomas Edison – who was informed by a teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything!
Abraham Lincoln who entered the Black Hawk War as a captain … and came out a private!
Imagine how “little” they must have felt about themselves, and what they were doing, at certain times in their lives. And yet, look at history to see how much was brought about because of these lives.
The word “impossible” is not in God’s vocabulary – nor was it in the vocabulary of these people. And God doesn’t expect to find it in ours.
Remember, how in scripture, Jesus tells us that we will see far greater things than he?
Well, he fed 5,000. Could we, then, feed five million?
He changed water into wine – a good wine, at that. Could we change water into hydrogen and oxygen and solve forever our energy problems?
Georg Washington Carver revolutionized the agriculture of the South with the peanut – think what we could do with crabgrass or Kudzu!
Faith is believing that we will change our little corner of the world – not that we can – but that we will … by taking one little step at a time – and allowing the power of God to be at work in us.
Are you catching a glimpse of the power of the small and simple things of life … when they are used by the mighty hand of God? Mustard seeds and slingshots.
And one little step – and God will do the rest.
But, if we’re waiting for lightning bolts and earthquakes to reveal God’s power at work in our lives, then we just may be missing the tremendous miracles, in the little things, right in front of us. This brings us to today and what is right in front of us!
In our worship this morning, let us praise the God of simple beginnings – and of great results as we stand in awe of the wonders that the power of God will work in each of us this very week as you, the congregation of Peace, and I, your now past Interim Pastor, take yet another little step in our mutual, now separate, journeys in the name of Christ. And may God bless our new beginnings!