Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Dream big, act small by Sue Russell

I think of Jesus by a number of different names, just as he has quite a few different titles throughout the New Testament. For reasons that are unclear, since I have no military connections and would be useless in any army, I sometimes think of him as my Captain, the great leader of the mighty army of the faithful, past, present and future, as pictured so vividly in Revelation; an army in which my own part is probably no more significant than that of a rat marauding among the supplies. (Perhaps one day I might get promoted to the urchin who bangs the drum!)
This led me to consider how small a part any individual must have in God's great design, limited as we all are by the apparent accidents of birth, gender, education, talents, opportunities and so on. Recently I played for the funeral of an elderly lady in our village and it struck me how briefly a life of more than threescore-and-ten was summed up, Of course there was a good deal more to this lady than could be mentioned in such a setting, but I did wonder what might be said at my funeral one day. It doesn't do to dwell too much on these things; better by far to get on with the tasks in hand and leave the rest to God. Nevertheless...
No doubt like many other people, when I was younger I had dreams of great achievements. As we get older, mere survival tends to become more of an issue, especially with bits of us packing up or falling off, reminding us that we are mortal and fragile. Circumstances militate against the dreams of youth, and we readjust our expectations. In the words of one of Pen Wilcock's characters, 'You start off set to conquer the world, and by the end you have to be glad if it hasn't conquered you.'
Sometimes this makes me feel quite sad. I tell myself that small but real achievements are better than big empty dreams that come to nothing, and knowing that we can't do as much as we hoped shouldn't be an excuse for laziness or timidity. C.S. Lewis wrote this, or something like it: 'Good and evil increase at compound interest. Little decisions are of infinite importance. The smallest good act today captures a strategic point which could lead to undreamt-of victories.' Certainly Lewis himself is a shining example of how one person can have a huge influence for good. So with Lewis I return to my military metaphor. Perhaps in the clash of battle the ragged urchin's hearty banging of the drum might encourage some flagging hero.
I know I can't do much, but what I can do, in his name and for his glory, God can multiply many-fold beyond what I can presently imagine. It's something to hold on to when those big airy dreams get blown away.

Sue Russell writes as S.L.Russell and has four novels available in the usual places: Leviathan with a Fish-hook, The Monster Behemoth, The Land of Nimrod and A Shed in a Cucumber Field, published by New Generation. The first three are a trilogy, the fourth a stand-alone, and a fifth, An Iron Yoke, in a similar genre - realistic British Christian fiction for adults - will be out in the world very soon.
Sue lives in Kent with her husband, currently one daughter, and Rosie the dog. She is an amateur singer and church organist, and blogs at


  1. What a beautiful and thought provoking piece. I love the vivid pictures. Thank you

  2. Thanks for this, Sue. How true. We do set off thinking we can conquer the world when we are young. I see it in my sons now. I think life becomes a more sobering experience for us. Still, good to think that even the little we can do can make a difference.

  3. This chimes with what I'm writing at present Sue, some training for churches on developing an inclusivity mindset. I'm sure your contribution is more significant than you imagine. I've just written these words: "We tend to see the Bishop, Vicar, Pastor, etc. as the important people in the church. Those who are very active in the church community rank next in importance, followed by ordinary families and children. Those who we deem can make no contribution, such as profoundly disabled people, seem the least important. Jesus reversed these rankings. He said that the most important people were the 'least of all' and the 'servant of all'."

    1. I am thankful too that such folk as you mention may well be the great ones of the Kingdom. I used to work with disabled children, so my heart is for them also.Thank you for your comment.

  4. We are all inclined to 'think more highly that we ought' of ourselves, as Paul would say. But on the other hand, I also believe that sometimes we feel 'more lowly than the truth' to coin a phrase. I am rather thinking that when the last trump sounds and we get to meet face-to-face with the fruits of our labours we are in for a few surprises, even shocks. Thank God it's in his hands, not mine, say I!

  5. "A rat marauding among the supplies" - I love it! Thanks for the encouragement. Much needed today..

  6. The God of small things, small people and even small dogs. The wonder is that he is also the God who 'flung stars into space'. It's that dichotomy that keeps me coming back again and again to learn more of him and from him