No Small Thing

Credit: Diana Robinson
Credit: Diana Robinson
“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.” ― Dorothy Day

I’ll just come right out and say it. Ananias is the bomb. Yeah, I’m using 90s slang today. #SorryNotSorry. (Also, I’m using obnoxious hashtags. #DealWithIt)

He only did one thing noteworthy enough to be included in Acts, but that one thing had such a huge impact on the development of Christianity that, arguably, without Ananias we may not even have the Christian religion we have today. Ananias guided Paul into the Way and Paul guided the world.

When Ananias was told, “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings…” (Acts 9:15, NIV) do you think he understood that his actions on that one day would directly lead to the development of a worldwide religion of over 2 billion people? I doubt it.

Ananias was asked to do a simple task. It was risky, but simple. Paul was just one man, and how big of a deal is it really to help just one man?

But, that’s just it. We don’t know how big of a deal it is. We don’t know what the long-term reach of our actions will be. We don’t know if those small ripples will turn into a wave.

If someone had pulled me aside five years ago and told me I’d be in a Christian Facebook group, posting a note saying “thanks for all the support” I’d have [insert witty comment about their drug use here]. But, that’s exactly what I was doing a few days ago.

Why?

Because a couple of years ago, I briefly shared some of what happened to me and they said one thing. “That was wrong.”

No excuses, no preaching, no condemnation for selfishly “forsaking the assembly”. It was just the acknowledgement that what happened to me shouldn’t have happened. What a small thing to offer someone.

I was all geared up to defend myself (as usual) or to endure being dismissed and ignored (yet again). An empathetic response caught me off guard. (They’re standing out there offering me flowers instead of trying to break down the gates with a battering ram. Well, now what do I do?)

So, I opened the gates.

I’m not saying that whole process was easy or that it happened quickly. Those gates were pretty well rusted shut there. (Who doesn’t love a gate metaphor?) But, those small words got me started. I don’t think most of those people even remember what they said, but I remember.

I’m no Paul or anything (though, we do seem to share a love of sarcasm and verbosity), but I keep blogging for a reason. It’s not easy for me to expose myself the way I do here. I’m more comfortable keeping to myself unless I’m deflecting pain with cynicism and humor. I do it because every time I’ve cracked myself open here other people have said “me too”.

I get notes now and then from people who’ve been hurt, or abandoned, or cast out, or don’t think they’re good enough, or don’t think they’re wanted. Some of them say it’s helpful to know they aren’t alone. Or that knowing where I was and where I am now helps them get through whatever they’re going through.

But, I wouldn’t be doing any of that if nobody had ever said “That was wrong” to me.

The point isn’t so much “what does my small act produce?” One small act touches a person who touches others who touches others. There is no such thing as a small act.

So many Christians want to be like Paul—apostle/teacher/preacher/missionary. We don’t all have to be like Paul. Maye you don’t have to reach everyone. Maybe you just need to reach someone, and, like Ananias, help build the Kingdom one simple brick at a time.

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