Mixed Signals

The Methodist church by my house has a marquee that faces a busy expressway. Today, as I drove by I, read their latest message: “Pay attention to your destination, not your speed.”

“Hmmm,” thought, “I wonder how the police department feels about that?”

No sooner had the thought passed through my head and I saw the flashing lights of a police officer with a car pulled over on the shoulder! I can almost imagine the driver’s frantic plea to the officer, “But, officer, the church back there told me…!”

This humorous scene reminded me of two quotes:

  • “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” —Francis of Assisi
  • “Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.” —Dwight L. Moody

May the “signs” of our lives never send mixed signals to the people “reading” us.

The Not So Little Stuff

My youngest son showed up at the dinner table Sunday evening with a swollen left eyelid. I looked at it a little more closely and could see what looked to be a bug bite in the corner of his eye.

“No big deal,” I thought. “It’s just a mosquito bite. Happens all the time in Michigan.” (After all the mosquito is slated to become our new state bird!)

But when he woke up this morning, his left eye was only open a slit. By the time I got him to the urgent care, his eyelid was a deep pink color and he was feeling very lethargic.

Guess what? It’s not such a little thing anymore!

Frequently I hear people saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” And I suppose to a certain extent that’s true. But typically the big stuff started off as the little stuff. Usually big problems are simply little problems that weren’t dealt with earlier.

  • Someone says, “My marriage failed last night” (big stuff). But the small warning signs had been there for months, but they weren’t taken care of.
  • Someone says, “My finances just hit rock bottom” (big stuff). But the small unnecessary purchases over time led to this moment.
  • Someone says, “I gave in to temptation” (big stuff). But the little flirting with the temptation created just the right environment for the big tumble.

Charles Simmons wrote —

“Life is made up of little things. It is very rarely that an occasion is offered for doing a great deal at once. True greatness consists in being great in the little things.”

On the flip side, rarely is a big problem presented all at one; it’s usually just the little things compounded over time.

The Apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth about the little things that can blow up into the big things. “Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a ‘small thing,’ but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this ‘yeast’” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7, The Message).

A final thought from Paul to his protégé Timothy: “Keep a close watch on how you live” (1 Timothy 4:16, New Living Translation). Great advice!

By the way, my son is going to be fine after a little steroid treatment and some Benadryl, but some people never recover from their lack of attention to the little things. Don’t let this happen to you! Watch out for the little things because you may find that they’re not so little after all!

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