A couple of years ago my wife, Penny, and I went to Hawaii. It was a great trip except for snorkeling day. My wife loves the water. At her house she grew up with a swimming pool in the backyard. I grew up a little differently; the bathroom was in our backyard. One year it caught on fire and we were excited, because it didn't reach the house. The only water I ever saw was on Saturday night for baths. Consequently, I didn't learn to swim until I met Penny. She's the graceful fish in water; I'm more like a beached whale. But I love her and she loves the water, so we planned a day of snorkeling.
Some friends of ours had loaned us the snorkeling equipment. As we were getting ready, I noticed one little thing was missing from my equipment. I couldn't find the little, rubber, circle thing that Penny was fitting over her snorkeling tube. It wasn't there. It was lost. It had gone wherever my lost socks go. I thought, "What's the big deal? It's small, it can't do much. I'm ready. Let's go."
We began the dive, moving out deeper and deeper. Admiring the beautiful fish, I went a little deeper still — and inhaled half the Pacific Ocean. Immediately, I realized that small, round, circle thing keeps your snorkeling tube from tipping into the water. I thought I was going to die. My life flashed before me (Actually a lot of other people's lives flashed before me first. I've done so much counseling and heard so many problems it took a while for my life to flash.). Penny came to my rescue, just in time; but I'll never forget the value of small things.
As I think about it, the way we handle the small things pretty much determines how successful we are. Just think about it. How many of you have ever been bitten by a lion or tiger, or stepped on by an elephant? Very few, I imagine. On the other hand, how many have been stung by a bee, bitten by a mosquito, or harassed by a fly? If you've ever spent the night with a mosquito or fly, you know how powerful small things can be.
It is an interesting phenomenon to watch the little things become a big thing. As I'm writing, I'm sitting at a table in my study. It looks awful. It's got a table virus. It came out of my Etch-A-Sketch … I mean computer, and messed up my table. No, actually I did it. Not all at once. I didn't even realize it was happening — just one small thing at a time, a paper here, a book there, a diet coke can over there. There are no big things on my table, but the table is a mess. Last week it was clean — of course I was out of town, but it was clean, I promise. Life can become a mess if you neglect the small things. Even small, loose ends can tie you up.
On September 11, 1995, a squirrel climbed on the Metro-North Railroad power lines near New York City. This set off an electrical surge, which weakened an overhead bracket, which let a wire dangle toward the tracks, which tangled in a train, which tore down all the lines. As a result, 47,000 commuters were stuck in Manhattan for hours that evening. I bet it wasn't even a big squirrel.
A few years ago, there was an enormous pine tree that grew in the mountains of Colorado. It was only half grown when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. A close study revealed that it had been struck by lightning fourteen times and survived centuries of Colorado's bad winters. Age didn't destroy it. Avalanches didn't move it. Fires didn't kill it. Many came to believe the old tree was indestructible. Then it happened. It was done in by a beetle — a little pine beetle that was so small you could crush it between your thumb and finger.
You see, one of the reasons small things are important is because they lead to big things. Addition comes before multiplication, crawling before walking, high school before college. No one starts at the top except a grave digger. If you want to do great things in your life, start doing small things in a great way.
If you want to have a great marriage, do the small things. You may say, "I would die for my wife." She doesn't want you to die for her, she just wants you to take out the trash. Whisper three small words in her ear like, "I love you," or better yet, "Let's eat out." Try giving her a small thing, like the remote control. See, I told you small things are powerful. Dinosaurs are extinct, yet rabbits abound.
Big things really do come in small packages. This year I became a grandpa, and I know small things mean a lot, for I would give the world to help that little tot. Yes, small things are powerful. Maybe that is why God used a baby to change the world.