‘From little things, big things grow’. Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody wrote this song in the 1980s. While it has since been used in superannuation fund advertisements, its origin tells the story of the Gurundji people’s fight for equal pay, land rights and reconciliation. This occurred through the Wave Hill walk-off in the mid-1960s.
As the National Museum of Australia website notes, ‘The Gurindji strike was instrumental in heightening the understanding of Indigenous land ownership in Australia and was a catalyst for the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, the first legislation allowing for a claim of title if the Indigenous claimants could provide evidence for their traditional relationship to the land’ (www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/wave-hill-walk-off).
From little things, big things grow. Artist Vincent van Gogh said, ‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’.
Reflecting on your own life, what great things have happened through making that small first step?
The book of Zechariah is set in a time in which the Israelites had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. It wasn’t an easy time. Having been dispossessed of their land, and now returned, there were many hurdles to jump through, including opposition to rebuilding the temple. In a sense, the book of Zechariah was partly written as a motivational book. It begins with eight bizarre dreams (Zechariah 1–6), the middle two of which speak of the future messianic king (Zechariah 3) and the rebuilding of the temple (Zechariah 4).
Read Zechariah 4:1–14.
What stands out for you? How might these be motivational? What message of hope might this bring to a people who have returned from exile?
Our culture tends to value ‘big’! While we might talk about ‘the little Aussie battler’ (it is a nice bit of virtue signalling and makes us feel good), the fact is we celebrate success more than failure, big more than small. Tragically, defining failure as ‘absence of success’ misses the point. As God said to Samuel (in relation to Eliab), ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7, NRSV). Values are important!
What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of a culture that emphasises success? What emotional and psychological effects might this ‘win at all cost’ attitude have on individuals? On our society?
Read Zechariah 4:6 and 4:10. What point do you think the prophet is trying to make?
The Bible is filled with stories of how God used small beginnings to create greatness. David was a shepherd boy. Esther was a slave. Joseph was hated by his brothers.
Can you think of other stories like this?
Underlying each of these stories is not the ability of the individual, or their determination to force things to happen, but their faithfulness to God’s call on their life.
What do you think is the greatest burden of trying to force something to happen? How might noticing God’s presence in one’s life help someone find ‘greatness’? How might you define ‘greatness’ in that sense?
Philippians 2 tells the narrative of Jesus who willingly became small so that we might become strong.
Read Philippians 2:1–11.
What stands out to you? Spend some time meditating on this passage of Scripture. What might be God’s invitation to you?
Pray: Lord God, thank you for your grace which redeems, reforms and transforms. Fill me with a humility to notice your presence in my life, and in the life of others, so that I can celebrate your grace in all things. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
This feature story comes from The Lutheran November 2019. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.
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