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Big things, little things

Pastor's corner

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POSTED: May 22, 2007 5:02 a.m.
There is an interesting phenomenon concerning the size of things. On a recent trip to my grandmother’s (Mamaw) home in the mountains of North Georgia, I thought about this in a new way. When I was young, my father pioneered a mission church in rural Pennsylvania. He worked diligently to establish that work (which continues to flourish) as well as worked a second and even a third job to provide for his family. During that season of our lives, we lived in a mobile home. This was not a modular home like you see today. This was the ’70s and the home we were in was probably close to a decade old. Needless to say, it was small; probably less than 10 feet wide and not very long.
One of my most favorite things then was for us to get in our little car, a Ford Pinto, and drive 700 miles to Georgia to visit my grandmother. Her house has two stories with bedrooms upstairs and downstairs. It rests in a nook in the mountains with a huge hill behind it. Even now, my children call the place “Mamaw’s Mountains.” As a child, this place was larger than life. It was, to me, a mansion. As I grew older, the familiarity of the sounds and smells of her home were ever present and frankly, taken for granted.
On my most recent trip, my wife was photographing the house and as I looked at her work, I realized this mansion was actually a humble little house on the side of the mountain. In comparison to today’s standards, it isn’t very large. I was somewhat surprised at this revelation, as I looked at this familiar home which is still one of my favorite places. I began to reflect on what made this place so large in my mind. Was it that I was living in a little tiny trailer? Not likely. My father soon moved us into a huge farmhouse. Was it that I was only three or four feet tall? As one grows, ones perspective does change. Still, there is something elusive because even now, looking at this property, once I am away, it looms larger than life.
Perhaps the answer can be found by way of relationship. There are two aspects of relationships; the way we relate to people and the way we relate to things. In my mind, I always related to this home as a large and very special place. Although in my mind I knew that it was family that made it special, I never let go of how I related to the house as an object. What really made it larger than life is the warmth, love and care that lives in that house. It is at least a century old. It was a miner’s shack when Papaw bought it in the 1940s. He worked hard on it and made many improvements to make it as nice as possible for his family. In the final months of his life, he labored through pain to complete an addition and that ever-valuable closet space; bound and determined to make certain that the house would stand long and provide comfort and shelter for Mamaw.
The stories that surround that house are long and colorful. It was where all the boys in the neighborhood came for a haircut. It was where all the children came to play. The admission price into the house was a commitment to eat until you could barely get up from the table. There is a garden that to this day produces the sweetest onions, tomatoes and corn that have ever grown. In my own childhood, Mamaw’s mountain was a theme park that could rival anything in Florida. I sat for hours in Papaw’s truck under the old tree and in my mind, drove all over the country. We would sit on the porch with friends and play music and sing. We ate barbecue and homemade ice cream. And we would cry when we left. These are the things that made that house seem so large.
Today, people seem to look at the material things they have to measure the size of life. They also look at the emotional things that occur to measure the size of life. In reality, a lot of people get confused about what is big and what is little. They place great importance on things that in the long run will have little effect on life. They also dismiss the little things that are created to mean so much, like time spent playing ball or reading with your children. Or, time spent around the family table.
All of this adds up to people having confused priorities. Little things become huge and become giant rips in the fabric of relationship. Things that are hugely important go forgotten and the blessing that comes with them is lost often for eternity.
What are the big things in your life? What are the little things? Are you trying so hard to accumulate more that you sacrifice relationship with family and with God to accomplish it? Are you prioritizing your relationship with God and with your family? Are your actions today creating the memories that will encourage your children tomorrow? Ask God to show you His perspective on your priorities. Ask Him to reveal His desire for you and your family.

Byler is the senior pastor of Bethesda Church in Hinesville.
 

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