Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Beanstalk Principle

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line Zerubbabel's hand. (Zechariah 4:10)

You are familiar with the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk," right? Jack goes off to sell the family cow so he and his mom can eat, and a mysterious old man suckers him into trading Old Bessie for some "magic" beans. Of course Mom is furious with Jack, and in a fit of fury, she tosses the beans out the window. Up grows the beanstalk, and Jack repeatedly climbs up the stalk to the home of rich ogre and robs him blind.

Perhaps it's not the most honorable example of wealth building, but here's the thing: Jack was forced with a lot of limitations in the beginning of this fairy tale. He and Mom were starving, and the cow had quit producing milk. From the pictures we've seen in fairy-tale books, the cow had limited prospects as a beef cow too. Jack is young and without any marketable skills. He comes home with nothing but a handful of small seeds...about what you'd expect when you send a kid to save the family.

Small things, however, can set huge things in motion. Zachariah reminds us never to dismiss the small things or to judge what God is up to by our meager, human standers. You see, this is part of the same passage where God warns Israel, "It is not by force nor by strength, but by Spirit" that he will deliver her (4:6), Zachariah prophesied about two olive trees on either side of God's dwelling place. One was Joshua, a less than imposing military figure. The other was the high priest Zerubbabel, who built a less than imposing Temple. Yet God said these two were moving mirroring his own story about his plan for humanity's salvation, accomplished as we know by the humble servant King and High Priest Jesus, rather than the impressive military conqueror so many were expecting. God does not always use massive show of power. In fact, he's saving that for the end of the book.

It started with a bean. God has graciously provided the stalk.

Action Plan
Your gift is not too small. Find one small good deed you are passionate about and can do on a continuing basis. See if a big old stalk takes root! 

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