The other night I watched a very thought-provoking movie in which actress Candace Cameron Bure stars as a WWII nurse who is seeking to re-discover her purpose. She's been informed that her husband has died in the war, and it's her first Christmas without him. She tells her friend that she knows she can't go on in grief forever, feeling lost and hopeless. But she doesn't know if she has any meaning to her life now that he's gone. The entire town is in the Christmas spirit...everyone except her. And she wonders if she is doing anything worthwhile for the world.
As the movie progresses, she ends up being transported ahead in time and eventually gets to see her life laid out in front of her. She is shown countless ways in which she made a difference, and she starts to realize that there have been many seemingly insignificant things that have added up over the years and changed the lives of many in the town. It becomes evident that when she least thought she was doing something of value, she was actually doing much more than she realized.
Watching this movie got me to thinking about all the numerous, yet small moments that make up a life. All the things that we do day-to-day that we often think little of which are adding up to make a big difference in the lives of other people. And it occurred to me that we can't really judge how our life will make a difference. Yes, we can point to certain opportunities or situations that stand out and say, "I got to do something special for the world there." But overall, our lives will be measured by the moments we have forgotten. The kind word, the selfless act, the caring manner in which we treated someone else... things we might not even recall ever saying or doing but things which meant the world to another person and blessed them in ways we'll never know.
It could have been a simple gesture that took you a mere matter of minutes to do, a smile passed out at the perfect time to a person in need, a hug given without realizing the other individual was at their lowest point. Whatever the case, the fact that you chose love and gave of yourself when another least expected you to was enough to change their life. And we have thousands of these interactions in our lifetimes. But we often overlook their significance and think that we're just one person and we really can't change much in this vast world.
Someday, however, we may discover otherwise. Someday, when God spells out our lives for all of humanity to see, we just may be surprised at the things He and others counted as significant. I know I often don't realize the difference I've made in somebody's life until they tell me much later. And even then, I don't completely understand. And perhaps that's just as well. I'm just trying to live my one life well.
It's frequent and human of me to often see all the ways in which I'm failing to be the person I want and hope to become. I get frustrated at the seemingly endless ways I'm falling short of where I want to end up at the end of my life. But every once in awhile, God gives me a peak into how He's using me to better this world...and it blows my mind because it's usually in ways I've overlooked or deemed unimportant.
I'm coming to realize that the Kingdom of God isn't always built in the most obvious ways. Rather, it's built out of small but intentional moments and experiences that add up to a big part in His masterful plan. There's a reason why God advises us in Scripture to "not despise the day of small beginnings" (Zechariah 4:10). Small things are what He uses to create big ones.
May I leave you with a word of encouragement to never underestimate what God can do with your one life? When you make the choice to live in grace, to love fearlessly, to choose brave every day of your life, God will give you opportunities to make that a reality for someone else. Your opportunity may come in a way you least expect. But don't brush it off as insignificant. Because when you let God define success for your life, you'll find at the end of your days that you did more for Him than you realized at the time.