PERSPECTIVE ON THE LITTLE THINGS
Many issues in life boil down to perspective. How we see things determines how we respond. On the big scale, this is called World View. But on the level of daily life, “it’s the little things.” But there are both negative and positive little things, and we need to respond to them in the right way. Have perspective.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF…
I hear this saying quite a bit. Of course it’s hard to “not sweat” anything in here lately when it’s in the high 80’s (in the house!) and over 90% humidity all day. But you know what I mean. Again, it’s perspective: “Don’t worry; it’s not that big a deal. Don’t let the little things get you.”
But all those annoying, distracting “little” things can get you down… if you lose perspective.
For example, a knuckle. That’s a little thing. For the past month or so one of mine has been swollen up about twice normal size from arthritis and it hurts all the time. It limits what I can do. I makes it hard to concentrate sometimes. It’s distracting. It’s a pain (literally!) But it’s only a little thing, and I need to remember that. In another month it will be back to normal. Later on one of its fellow knuckles will take a turn. So I better not let a knuckle get me off track or discourage me from why we came back to the tribe. Maybe the Lord knows it’s better for me to let the Palawanos do more of the work on my house (since my hand hurts). While I can use the exercise, they need the wages to buy food during the present hungry season. And the time I spend interacting with the workers is good for my language immersion, and for relationships. Those renewed and deeper relationships will probably contribute more to the Palawano translation than my having been the one to saw a board or pound a nail.
What about a pump gasket… say 4″ in diameter? That’s a little thing, too. But when they tear frequently and you have to take the whole pump apart in order to have water… over and over, it gets old. But again, it’s a little thing. At least we have water in the well, and cool water to drink. And again, perspective matters. It’s a good thing, I imagine, for the Palawanos to see us with at least a few difficulties in our lives here; to realize that we face annoying, repeated malfunctions. And would they learn more of Christlike character seeing me live a trouble free life? …or from watching me patiently and cheerfully taking that pump apart… again?
And termites. Those are definitely little things. With a name like “subterranean termite” you would think the would be more imposing in their appearance. But nope, they are small, mostly colorless. But it’s almost unbelievable how much damage they can do to a house, and how quickly. Day after day (and during the night) they keep tunneling and coming up into the house to hollow out the lumber. We just had to cut off all of our house posts (about 40 hardwood poles, 5′ deep in the ground) because of the “little” termites. Some posts were completely hollowed out and full of dirt and termites. The post, about telephone pole size, was now nothing but a shell about a 1/2″ thick. Other posts looked good from the outside, but there was a tiny hollow core in the middle which was being using as a termite stealth highway up into the house. We had to cut the posts off and replace the lower portion with new wood. Then we treated them with termite poison.
ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS
But then there are those little encouragements… little signs of progress or spiritual growth. Again, we need perspective so we don’t miss the pleasure of these little things. We don’t want to fail to notice good things just because they are small and undramatic.
Yesterday Abil, one of our Palawano church leaders, told me something encouraging. A little thing, but very exciting. He has been having semi-monthly trips upriver to teach at a former outreach. Last week Abil’s wife had a baby, and I was wondering if this might slow him down. His wife might even put a little pressure on him to stick closer to home. But he came and told me that they had discussed this as a married couple and than in a few weeks, when his wife was stronger, they would start going to the outreach together and spend several days there each time! This way, he said, they would not be apart so much, and his wife could teach and encourage the women there.
One of my translation helpers, Giyang, has been through some rough days. Some hurtful gossip (false but shameful and painful) has been circulating about him, so he had gone into hiding. But one little thing after another has come together to bring about a good end. Nestor urged Giyang to talk to Abil and to me (a little thing, but kudos to Nestor for using his gift of encouragement!) Nestor said it was time Giyang stopped letting this people ruin his life and that he should get counsel from us. Then Giyang came and talked to me. Again, a little thing, but the tearful conversation we had, and the level at which I was able to encourage him was only possible because of a 25 year relationship between me and Giyang. So the “little thing” reminded me of some of the fruit of our time in here all these years.
And everyday, the Palawano children walk past our house, giggle, make faces or call out silly things to us. Little things, little people. They call us “Upo,” which means Grandpa/Grandma. That’s special. Again, the fruit of a long time in here. Their parents were our daughters friends and we enjoy sitting around reminiscing with them, as well.
I was thinking on all this and realized that as much as I hate the termites, there was a lesson to learn from them. They are small and weak (like us). But by working together single-mindedly and sticking at the job, they accomplish quite a lot.
We need to follow their example. Stick at the job. Stay focused. Be diligent and work side by side with all the others on our team. And one little thing after another will lead to the realization of our goal. God will be glorified by the establishment of a functioning Palawano church with His Word in their hands and hearts.
You are part of that team, too, you know. You and us… Little Things that God can use. Let’s keep at it to the end.