Magic Bean Plants All Start Small

Magic bean plants.

All four of my kids have brought home this same preschool project:  a tiny bean planted in a cup of soil.  They planted,  they watered and then they carried it home.

We always place the bean plants on our kitchen window sill and a few days after arriving in our home, they sprout.

What a day!  We marvel and ooh and aah.

And those beans grow.  They grow and grow.

When my youngest girl watched her bean grow, I teased her about her “magic beanstalk.”  Every few weeks, it might produce a bean, which she picked, washed, ate, and pretended to like (raw).   That plant was hardy and so tall.

I’d ask her about the giant at the top and would Jack be visiting any time soon.  Maybe she got the magic beans from good-old Jack.

They are just a wonder,  though. One simple bean and it shoots up like a ladder to the sky.

One simple bean.  One small seed.

It’s a wonder, isn’t it, when we take the time to notice the small?  When we marvel at the beauty and strength and wisdom hidden in the tiniest and most overlooked things?

How beautiful, too, when we content ourselves with small instead of pushing, fighting, striving, duking it out for something grander or louder or more visible.

I read this  in Proverbs this week and it re-set my heart a bit:

Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the rock badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
27 the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard you can take in your hands,
yet it is in kings’ palaces (Proverbs 30:24-26 ESV). 

What is it that we learn from the “weak” and the “insignificant?”

Be prepared

It’s the working in advance that sets the ants apart, how they toil in summer, setting aside the food, getting ready for a season of want by storing up during the season of plenty.

They don’t waste the bounty of now and they keep the future in mind.

Find a safe place

The rock badgers hide themselves away in cliff crevices, finding the safest places to escape from prey and withstand the weather.

They know what is needed–a refuge.  No one can fight and fight all the time.  No one is mighty enough to  withstand every foe.  But we can still find rest if we have a safe place.

Have a team

The locusts march together.  They aren’t ordered to do it.  No king sets them into battle formations and sends them out.

They choose cooperation because they are better together.

Stay humble

Even the lowliest lizard can be found in a palace and treasured by kings, but you could catch that same lizard outside and hold him in your hand.

They aren’t different lizards.  They aren’t putting on a show.  They aren’t dressed up in frills and diamonds.  They are simple and lovely,  God-designed and just doing what God designed lizards to do—no more than  that.

What is it we learn from magic bean plants…and from ants, rock badgers, locusts and lizards?  

To praise God in the here and now of our simple, beautiful life.   To raise our heads, our hands, our voices high in worship, honoring Him simply because He made us.

We learn to  find our safe place in Jesus, our Rock, our Redeemer, the Refuge we run to when people are hurtful and life is hard.  We hide ourselves in Him and let Him cover us and give us rest.

To treasure peace with others.  To cover tension and disagreements with grace and forgiveness.  To realize that the people we make our enemies aren’t really our enemies.  Disagreements don’t negate love.  We still love because they are beloved and treasured by God even if they don’t know it.

And not to go it alone and strike out all independent and determined to  live off our own strength.  We are weak.  That’s the truth.  God makes us strong in Him and He gives us strength with each other.

Also this:  God made us.  He loves us.  We can come into the presence of the King of all kings, lowly as we are, humble as we are, small, insignificant, tiny and weak as we are.  It’s not because we are worthy.  It’s because Jesus covered us with His worthiness.  He invites us right in and welcomes us into His presence.

We. Are. Small.

And, friend, let’s be small.  Let’s honor Him with all  that is in within us because we are oh so very loved by our very BIG God.

Bible Verses for When you Feel Small

  • Psalm 37:16 ESV
    Better is the little that the righteous has
        than the abundance of many wicked.
  • Proverbs 15:16 ESV
    Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
        than great treasure and trouble with it.
  • Isaiah 11:6 ESV
    The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
        and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
    and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
        and a little child shall lead them.
  • Isaiah 40:29 ESV
    He gives power to the faint,
        and to him who has no might he increases strength.
  • Zechariah 4:10a ESV
    For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
  • Micah 5:2 ESV
    But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
  • Matthew 11:25 ESV
    At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children
  • Matthew 13:31-32 ESV
     He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
  • Matthew 19:14 ESV
    but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Matthew 25:21 ESV
    His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
  • Luke 12:32 ESV
  • Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • Luke 16:10 ESV
    “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.


Have you been feeling small?

Oh my friend, I have been there.

At first, it’s overwhelming.  We feel weak and insignificant, maybe overwhelmed and unworthy.

But then I remember this truth:  God uses the small.

When the twelve spies returned home with their report from their jaunt in the Promised Land, ten of them said this:

The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. …and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Number 13:32-33 ESV)

Here’s the lesson for them and for me and for you:anywhere-faith

Your victory or success–or even just your ability to make it through this very day–does not depend on you.  So you’re a grasshopper. That’s okay.  God uses grasshoppers…You can be a grasshopper and still take possession of the Promised Land because you serve a great and mighty God who is stronger than any giant and can knock down any wall.

God didn’t call you because you are able; He called you because He is able (Anywhere Faith)



What’s in a Name, Part I

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

It’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, but there’s one scene I’ll never forget.  Overweight, middle-aged, unhappy housewife Evelyn Couch finally has had enough of letting people walk all over her.  Two young and sassy women zoom their sports car into the Winn Dixie parking space for which Evelyn was so patiently waiting.  Laughing to themselves, they yell back at her, “Face it, lady, we’re younger and faster.”   At first, Evelyn looks like she’s just going to drive away and allow herself to be beaten down once again.

But, then she remembers that she didn’t want to be Evelyn anymore.  She wanted to become “Towanda.”  A new name for a new boldness about life.  Exotic and exciting, the name Towanda empowers Evelyn.  Instead of driving away and letting the girls have the parking space without a fight, Evelyn smashes into their car over and over and over again.  When they come out screaming, she says, “Face it girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.”

Now, it’s no doubt that she went a bit overboard with the “Towanda power” and for the sake of your car insurance rates, I don’t recommend enacting vengeance on any parking space thieves you encounter.  Yet, one thing is certain–there’s power in a name.

That’s why instead of glossing over Jesus’s genealogy in Matthew 1 (like I usually do), I recently took the time to read it and ponder each of the names listed there.  Essentially, the Bible is the story of God’s activity among humanity, but it is told in the individual stories of people—broken, messed up, sinning people just like you and me.  As we learn about these people, we ultimately learn about God.  Eugene Peterson wrote:

“The biblical fondness for genealogical lists is not dull obscurantism, it is an insistence on the primacy and continuity of people.  Each name is a burnished link connecting God’s promises to his fulfillments in the chain of people who are the story of God’s mercy

As I read through the list of Jesus’s earthly ancestors, there are names I readily recognize, such as Abraham, King David, and Solomon.  These are the flannel board characters that made it into the Sunday School curriculum in my churches growing up.  The famous ones with stories we’ve heard hundreds of times.

Then, there are a few names I only remember because I recently read through the books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings and the Chronicles.  Not-quite-so-famous guys, their stories are in the Bible, but they don’t typically get covered by preachers or teachers in the Biggest Hits method we often use to teach Scripture.  These are guys like Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah.

Finally, there are the names on this family tree that I simply don’t know anything about at all.  Who are Azor, Zadok and Achim anyway?  How do these men fit into Scripture and into the heritage of Christ?  What part do they have to play in the greatest ministry of all—the bringing forth of our Savior and Messiah?  Maybe the scholars know and have written commentaries and heavy academic books about these mystery men.  But, a simple Jesus-girl like me, sitting at the kitchen table with my Bible?  No, they are empty names to me.

But, they are not empty names to God.  God values the famous platform ministries that reach thousands of people seated in arenas and the millions of people who read the Christian books on the New York Times Bestseller lists.  He blesses their service and receives glory through their efforts.  They are the well-known ones, who might have ended up on a flannel board had the Bible been written during our lifetime.

Yet, in our small churches across the country, whether urban or rural, there are people serving every day who may never achieve the worldly definition of ministry success.  Nevertheless, their every act of self-sacrifice and the pouring out of themselves for the sake of others is witnessed by God and is valued by Him.

I recently saw a well-known speaker at a women’s conference.  Her speaking and teaching that weekend blessed me and assuredly ministered grace and encouragement to the sanctuary full of women who had gathered to hear her.  During the question and answer time at the end of the weekend, someone asked her, “Do you ever meet one-on-one with women, especially to mentor them?”  With so much grace, she said no.  Between her precious family and the already pressing demands on her time, meeting one-on-one wasn’t possible.  But, she shared with them her website and her blog and newsletter and encouraged them to connect with her that way.

God calls some people to minister from afar to the masses.  Others he calls to meet face to face with family, friends, community and church members because God loves individual people with unique needs that can sometimes only be met by personal contact.  Someone needs to actually cuddle the babies in the church nursery.  No bestselling book can replace a nursing home visit.  The Christian rock bands at music festivals cannot have lunch at the high school with some teenagers who need a positive role model.

No ministry is too small to matter to God.

Hidden away in another genealogy in 1 Chronicles 9:31, we read that “a Levite named Mattithiah, the firstborn son of Shallum the Korahite, was entrusted with the responsibility for baking the offering bread” (NIV).  A one-liner in Scripture.  His chief job was baking bread to be used as an offering in the temple.  Others in this long genealogy were gatekeepers, guards, officials in the house of God, and caretakers of all the holy instruments used in worship.  But, Mattithiah was a simple baker who was “entrusted with a responsibility.”  And what he did mattered.  Without Mattithiah, the offering table would be empty of an element of worship.  His ministry, however small, was essential to his faith community.

God has entrusted all of us with gifts, talents and passions that He’s called us to use for His glory and as a blessing to others.  He has uniquely designed us for these jobs and placed at our feet opportunities to serve, whether in our own homes, our churches, or neighborhoods.  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

And so we must “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2) and remember that “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23).  We might never make it onto a flannel board, but God’s definition of success isn’t how famous we were or how many people we touched.  Instead, He simply desires for us to obey and serve Him where He has placed us with the gifts and passions He has given us.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King