40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I don’t remember exactly when it was, but sometime during my high school career I remember having to sit in a very uncomfortable wooden chair in our school library to take a test. It wasn’t any the type of test which would try to help me when I had to take the ACT or to see how smart I thought I was. This test was a test which was asked all kinds questions about my interests, questions about what it was that I was good at and a bunch more questions about what I may possibly want to do with my life. This test was to help me figure out which classes I needed to take so that I may better prepare myself for whatever career pathway I would possibly travel down.
While sitting in a different yet equally uncomfortable chair in a business management class at Concordia University in Chicago, I learned about the different methods and ways in which a 5, 10, or 20-year strategic plan could be developed. In the midst of that class, not only did my professor want us to learn the stuff so that we could pass his class but he was hoping that someday we would be great business leaders and apply what we learned. Underlying this teaching though was the idea that we would learn it and apply it to our own personal lives.
We do this same thing to our kids, even our super little kids, all the time. We don’t ask them to develop a 20-year plan and then have them explain to us how they are going to implement the details of that plan, but instead we ask them … what do you want to be when you grow up? Now granted, we know it is going to change, my daughter’s plan changes almost monthly, if not weekly. But for those who are about to go back to school in a couple of weeks, whether it be high school or college, a plan for the future is something which is always being considered and tested.
Each of us though, whether we are in school, living the adult life, or are living the dream of retirement, we plan for the future in some way or another. It is not a bad thing to do so. It isn’t a bad thing to have dreams and aspirations. It isn’t a bad thing to look to the future and have great plans. We all should have goals and a long-term vision of what we want our life to be. But here’s the thing … we shouldn’t live for these goals and dreams at the expense of the here and now.
When the mission team was down in Houston, Texas, a couple of weeks ago … this idea of having plans and dreams was brought up at one of our evening meals which was provided by members of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church who was so gracious to feed us, house us, and give us a place to unwind at night. The people of Houston who were severely affected by Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017 had plans, they had goals, dreams, and aspirations. I can guarantee you that having their homes damaged by a hurricane was probably not at the top of anyone’s list nor did it even make the list. As Hurricane Harvey worked its way up the coast of Texas, it dropped 50 to 60 inches of rain. Hopes and dreams of thousands of people were drowned and washed away. Homes were severely damaged. Some of them were able to be fixed, but others were too far gone to be repaired and had to be condemned. People’s lives, dreams, and goals were all changed.
Shortly after Hurricane Harvey moved out, the immediate response to help was great and awesome. But as one of the members of Gloria Dei told us … the city and the people of Houston are exhausted. They have been trying to help their own for a year now. Many areas near busy roads look great and you would never suspect a hurricane had stormed through there … but those who live in the trenches, those who live in the middle of neighborhoods off the beaten path are still struggling and need help. Some need it in major ways as the FEMA timeline has or is expiring and they have nowhere to go. Others need help just putting the final pieces back together so they can move back into their homes and this is what our team did. We helped put back together some of the final pieces so that in the very near future, the two families we helped can live in their home again.
At one of the dinner devotions, a member of Gloria Dei played a song for us. It is a song written and sung by Josh Wilson. It is called, “Dream Small” and I want to share it with you now.
Like I said earlier and as was clearly brought out in the song, we can look to the future and have great plans, and that’s good a thing. We should have goals, dreams, and a long-term vision. But too often, planning and looking forward is at the expense of the here and now. We often miss the smaller opportunities which God has for us around the corner because we’re so busy making a plan for what is over in the distance.
In our gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus says to the faithful who believe in him, to those who live out their faithful love and devotion to Jesus, “‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40). Paul in the reading from 1 Corinthians 12 says that in the body of Christ which you and I make up, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). Each simple little act of kindness stemming from our faith in Jesus can change the world. Remember what is sung in the song, “a tiny rock and can make a giant fall” and that “The God who does all things makes oceans from rivers.”
In writing this song, Josh says, “This song is for moms and dads who are loving their families, this is for students who are choosing compassion over bullying, this is for those in ministry who day in and day out show the love of Christ with little to no thanks. This song is for YOU. You have the chance to change the world like nobody else can. If you are like me, maybe you get overwhelmed with the great need you see in the world, but all we have to do is open our eyes to the opportunities that are right in front of us.”
Not everyone is wired to go on mission trip. Not everyone is capable of teaching Bible Class. Not everyone is able to serve in grand and majestic ways and that is okay. What did the song say? … Dream small. There is no need to try to move a mountain on your own. There is no need to do it all right now. There is no need to think that you are going to change the world in one day. Dream small.
God has uniquely created you to be who you are and He has given you special gifts and talents. Special gifts and talents which can be used to actively show the absolutely amazing love of God. God doesn’t give you these gifts and blindly sends you to the wolves. He goes with you and with the love of God and His Holy Spirit with you … your little acts of love done to the least of these can be like a little stone which took down a giant. Dream small for your little acts of love done out of God’s love can make a huge difference in the life of the people you encounter. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.