Daily Devotion - Thursday, January 14, 2016

For the next several weeks our daily devotions will be focused on the fresh start that a new year brings, and how we have the opportunity to write a new story in a new year.  We're going to be thinking about how the decisions we make today, determine the story we tell tomorrow.  This week we're going to be thinking  about what we need to do to start something this year that will help determine a better story. 

We just got a new puppy at our house.  He's an eight week-old West Highland Terrier named Elway, and he's about the cutest dog on the face of the earth. 
My wife Merideth is an amazing dog trainer with the patience of Job.  Elway is currently learning how not to do his "business" in the house, and Merideth helps teach him this by passionately celebrating when he does what he is supposed to do outside, rather than inside.  

The other day we were all outside when Elway went piddle.  Immediately, we all started cheering him as though he had won the lottery.  Our little dog looked kind of stunned at first, and then started wagging his tail and hopping around like a clumsy rabbit.  It was such a small accomplishment in the great, grand scheme of things, but it was worth celebrating because we knew it was part of our little dog's journey toward complete inclusion into our family.  

Believe it or not, this little vignette actually brought a passage of Scripture to my mind from Zechariah chapter 4.  I know.  Only a real Bible nerd could find some kind of spiritual lesson in puppy potty training.  Hear me out, though.  

In this passage the prophet is speaking to the Hebrew people who have returned to a desolated Jerusalem after being in exile for 70 years.  They are rebuilding the Temple, and it looks nothing like the Temple built by Solomon.  In fact, it's smaller, shabbier, and kind of depressing to look at.  

So God says this to the people, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”  (Zechariah 4:10)

One of the many things that keeps us from starting fresh at the onset of a new year is how hard it is to actually get started.  We want transformation and change immediately if not sooner.  We would love to drop ten pounds by just walking into the gym--as if the fat fled our bodies in fear of what was to come. We want so desperately for our financial issues to be resolved by our winning the Powerball lottery.  We would love to find peace, purpose and spiritual balance overnight.  But none of these things are possible in a flash.  

True transformation often begins with small, incremental changes that lay the foundation for greater things to come.  Far to few of us, however, have the patience and the hope-filled vision that is required to see beyond the small beginnings to the grand construction that will one day be built upon them.  

"Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..."  God's not disturbed by the fact that you are starting small as you take the steps you need to take to be the person God is dreaming for you to be.  God rejoices, the Scripture tells us, when you begin the work.  God celebrates when you take that small step toward full inclusion into God's kingdom.  

May you be filled with courage to start small in this new year as you build a foundation for the great building that is to come in your life.  May you rejoice knowing that God celebrates the beginning of this work, and does not despise your small beginnings.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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