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~ Another Day of Doing Small Things ~

When we say, "In the old days" or "Back in the day," we are not talking about literal time between sun rise to sun rise, but rather of an era. God gave Adam an interesting command: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17b, NIV). Some translations include "day" in this verse, as in "the day you eat of it."

Obviously, Adam and Eve did not physically die on that day that eventually came, living many years and producing children. So who or what died? The word was translated from the Hebrew, "muwth," meaning a death in result of an action. What we call "The Fall" is a reference to spiritual death, and that means the inability to see God through our spiritual eyes, the worst case of blindness imaginable. This points to the famous verse, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  "Wages" are a direct reference to the stipend given soldiers, a result of an action. In the Greek, gift is rendered "charisma," or a divine gratuity or spiritual endowment.  We earn wages and accept gifts.

But what's up with this dictate of God given to the first people? Don't many of us wish God would have said, "Do whatever you want in this land of paradise. You can't do anything wrong!" That's the philosophy of many today:  "If it feels good it must be right" or "Whatever makes you happy." Overlooked is the role of obedience, self-sacrifice and submission in loving relationships. Choice is crucial in a love relationship. Having no choice but to love changes both its meaning and dynamics, just as having no choice but to do evil removes one's accountability and culpability. Even the angels have choices, one-third of them choosing to go their own way and trying to set up their own kingdom. The fall of humankind led to horrible events and a tragic history still in the making. The ministry and willful obedience of Christ to the Father is a wondrous thing, reestablishing our ability and choice to love.

This love, however, is not possible without spiritual rebirth. On my own will and strength, I cannot love others as Christ loves me. It would be arrogant to even think I can, even if my experience didn't prove it to me and others. Thus I'm grateful for Christ's prayer for us: "I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them" (John 17:26). Now that's a heavenly gift! That sums up Christ's response to "the fall" and the meaning of being born again in the Spirit.

Particularly on radio stations, I hear too frequently "God has a wonderful plan for your life!" This sounds enticing. Does God want me to pastor a giant sized church with four services every Sunday and two thousand people at each one? Does He want me to write twenty books that all make someone's best-seller list? Sounds wonderful. But we don't ask, does He want me to be a missionary in China and spend twenty years in a Chinese prison for distributing Bibles? Does He want me to be tortured and beheaded for giving aid in anti-Christian nations? Most people would not categorize these as "wonderful plans" yet many Christians lived them obediently, viewing such destinies through the eyes of Spirit and loving others with God's love and Christ's presence in them. God had, so to speak, "wonderful plans" for the lives of the apostles. Except John, all of them died a martyr's death which they embraced. Peter even asked to be crucified upside-down, deeming himself not worthy to emulate the Christ.

Much drivel has been written regarding one's spiritual gifts, including test-like inventories to help determine what a particular person's gifts may be. This is meant to aid Christians in discovering God's "wonderful plan" for their lives. The Scriptures are clear, however, on what that plan is: To become Christlike, increasingly so through our years of spiritual growth and maturity. As Jesus told us, "Seek first the kingdom of God and all else will be added unto you." That's the plan. Many who have done great things in Christ's name will proudly tell Him so, and He said His response to them will be, "Leave Me, I don't know you."

Zerubbabel was commissioned to lay the foundation for a new temple and was criticized by the Israelites who were not impressed, comparing it to Solomon's temple. In response, God proclaimed, "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel" (Zechariah 4:9-10).

I will wake up tomorrow morning and welcome a day of doing small things. My plans may well change in response to what the day will bring. But whatever the day brings, I am content with another day of doing small things. That's God's wonderful plan for my life and I embrace it.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
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