Small…but not small
“You?” she asked with raised eyebrows. “What could you possibly say to encourage anyone, let alone me?” It was a brutally honest question, unfettered with pleasantries. She was harsh. She was skeptical. But at least she was honest.
And she really wanted an answer.
She looked me straight in the eye, without apologizing, and waited. I fidgeted, struggling to put into words an explanation that would capture my intention. She deserved to know. She deserved to hear the Truth. She was begging for it. And quite honestly, people just don’t seem to tell the Truth much anymore. She was clearly not interested in a substitute.
“Jesus,” I said softly. She leaned in, eyebrows still raised. “What?” Taking a deep breath, I said again, louder this time, “Jesus.” This time she heard me. This time her eyebrows furrowed. Leaning back in her chair, she crossed her arms and said, “That sure is a small word for such a big promise.”
Yes. Yes, it is.
This unfolding reminded me of a time when Peter and John made the journey to the temple to pray (Acts 3:1-10). On their way, they came across a man, crippled and destitute. The passage says that this man was crippled from birth and each day he was carried to the temple gate, called “Beautiful,” so he could beg from those going into the temple courts.
Think about that for a minute – he had been crippled since birth, knowing nothing but a life of begging, hardship, and being outside the loop of everything good. I am sure he just wanted to survive. Begging for bread or a few coins just outside the “beautiful” gate.
I wonder if he ever hoped that someone would offer more than just scraps? I wonder if he ever longed to pass though the gate with the name that had never been his. “Beautiful” – certainly not a name that had ever been associated with his. I can almost imagine his broken heart asking to be “put” in that very location every day. “Take me to the ‘Beautiful Gate,'” as though being near it was all he could hope for.
But who was he to ask for more than scraps?
And as he saw Peter and John, he probably thought they, like everyone else, had nothing better to offer. He asked them for what he thought he had the best chance at receiving–money. Why ask for hope when it is too big to ever receive, right? He asked them for something small. He asked them for what he probably asked from everyone who passed by–something the world could offer.
But the story doesn’t unfold the way this crippled man thought it would. Let’s read this part together.
“Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”
It is no small thing to give someone the hope we possess.
It wasn’t to this crippled man. It wasn’t to me, all those years ago, either. I remember that first breath of real hope like it was yesterday. I remember how it felt to realize that I was missing everything that mattered and that I had no idea how to take hold of it.
I remember how it felt to be crippled….crippled in spirit, in heart, in soul…and what it felt like to take hold of hope and walk through that “Beautiful” gate into Jesus’s arms. Oh yes, I remember.
And as I looked across the table at this hurting woman, I knew no other name to give her. This small, but not small Name. This small, but not small Hope. This small, but not small Answer.
“No one is like You, Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.”
My eyes met her bewildered stare. “Yes,” I said with a smile, broadening into a grin, “but His Name is anything but small.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, living in (but not of) this world, we have to tell the Truth. We must share the Hope we have and bring what He has given us to others.
Sometimes they don’t even know what they are missing in their lives. Or perhaps they do, but have no idea that it is being offered to them, too. And I’ll bet, if you look closely, you will see many people loitering just outside this “Beautiful” gate, ready to settle for a scrap of anything else.
Go on ahead and look ‘em in the eye, let them know what you have, and that you are willing to share.
Extend a hand and invite them to the dance. I will always be grateful for the person who took a chance, invited me, and told me the Truth.
The song I want to share with you is from Bethel Music, entitled, “Heart and Hands,” and was written for the refugees in Northern Iraq and all those who are lost and destitute and in desperate need of the One True Hope. Oh, that we would be His hands and feet and heart. May it be so…in my heart, in yours.
With joy for the journey,