Whenever you get serious about an endeavor, your first few lessons are very basic. I mean, very, very basic. They are so basic because, as any good teacher will tell you, most students have to unlearn bad habits they've picked up on their own before they can begin to learn to do something the right way. If you take golf lessons, the first lesson will be on stance and balance. Sometimes, the student won't hit a ball until the second or third lesson. Bad habits are hard to unlearn. Want to learn to cook? You'll spend hours learning about different pots and pans and how they handle heat. It will be a while before you cook anything.
Christianity is the same way. When most of us decide to follow Christ, we declare we'll give our life to Jesus. He rarely asks for that. Most of the time the next step is small and simple. So small and simple we don't think it's worth doing at all. The tasks will be as simple as sitting with a friend who's going through a hard time; or perhaps you'll be asked to befriend someone who is lonely -- none of these seem to be world-changing endeavors. They are just simple acts of love desired by our Savior.
Because they're simple, we don't do them. We assume these simple acts won't make any difference so we don't do them. And because we don't do the simple things Christ asks of us, we never do anything at all. Remember Naaman, the Syrian general? He was told by Elisha the prophet that if Naaman would bathe in the Jordan River he would be healed of his leprosy. Naaman was insulted. There are better rivers back home. Why should he wash in the Jordan? If his servants hadn't changed his mind, Naaman wouldn't have washed in the Jordan at all. He wouldn't have been healed either.
A lot of us get tripped up because we think our first steps in following Jesus should be harder, more demanding, and complicated. We need to remember God always starts small. Creation starts with a word. Israel's greatest king starts tending his father's sheep. Elijah learned the faithfulness of God in the lesson of the oil in the widow's jar. Before Peter was part of a healing in the early chapters of Acts, he followed and failed Jesus. Moses experienced a burning bush before he faced Pharaoh. He threw down his staff and watched it turn into a snake. That's not where he ended....but it's where he started.
Remember the parable of the talents. The master left his servants five, two, and one respectively. If you follow the story, the servant who got five this time got two last time, and the one who got two got one last time. The one who got one? This was his first time. He was being tested to see if he could be trusted with more. Be faithful with what you have. Be faithful where you are. The reward for good work in the kingdom of God is MORE WORK. Don't worry that God will forget you or overlook you. If you're faithful in small things, in time God will trust you with more.
There are some things we learn only in obedience. In doing the small things, we are prepared for the larger things that will be demanded of us as we mature in our faith. We learn to hear His voice in the confusion. We learn to trust His ways when they don't seem to make sense. We learn, in quiet, small, and safe ways, the lessons our lives will depend on as we follow Christ into more and more difficult work for the kingdom.
And we learn this one step at a time. No child is born running. We crawl, and then we walk, then we run. Same with faith. No one is born a saint. Faith has to be learned. Obedience has to be tested and proven in small and seemingly insignificant moments. No, this isn't where we end up, but it is where we start.
So, the next time you're asked to do something small, do it. Big things will surely follow.