I’ve never been one of the great and mighty, never worked for a multi-national company, never attended a mega-church. I’ve never lived in a huge capital city or felt comfortable in crowds. The big and bustling metropolis and the giant organisations which have slick marketing campaigns and jazzy slogans generally leave me cold. I’m a little person – literally and metaphorically.
That’s why stories like David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) mean a lot to me. Or the story of Gideon (Judges 6). Or the story of the little boy whose lunch feeds five thousand (John 6:1-13 TNIV). I like the fact that the Bible doesn’t just deal with the big things (armies, nations, battles and wars) but focuses on individuals and the role they play in the bigger picture. Psalm 131:1-3 TNIV is one of my favourite psalms: ‘My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.’
The Bible reassures me that God knows each one of us as individuals and cares for us by name (read Psalm 139 TNIV or Isaiah 43:1 TNIV if you don’t believe me.) It also reassures me that individuals can make a difference, however small or inadequate they feel in themselves. It declares that one with God can achieve amazing results: ‘One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised.’ (Joshua 23:10 TNIV)
So often, we feel disempowered as individuals and disheartened as a result. ‘What difference can I make?’ we say. We feel there’s no point getting involved in our communities, in politics, in church life, in our work situations or whatever because we don’t think we can influence or change anything in these ‘bigger’ pictures. But history tells us a different story. History shows us that individuals can make enormous differences: Shaftesbury, Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi.
Goliath didn’t win. The young shepherd boy, scorned by his brothers and the runt of the family, triumphed where no one expected him to. Gideon became a worthy judge, despite his own self-image. The little boy’s lunch met a huge need. And we too can make a difference, not because of our own ingenuity or strength, perhaps, but because God specialises in working with individuals who are surrendered to Him. More and more I pray this prayer:“God, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am” and rejoice in the individuality of personality made by God.