They are conveniently small things, immensely helpful and the source of immense frustration. How easily they get lost, and how lost we can be without them. Or there can be one thing worse, which I discovered twice recently: to have them, but not working. I am talking of keys. How many do we have, and how much time do we spend looking for them or using them?
Two times in the last two weeks I placed a key in the lock and gained no response. One non-response was the fault of the lock: someone had tried to gain access without the key and damaged the lock so that not even the key could persuade it to act. On the second occasion the fault was with the key, which had been bent out of shape by the over-exuberance of a six-year-old (no names!). On each occasion some lateral thinking was called for to bring about the desired result. But I have to admit to some sense of frustration and epiphany in the process.
How many of the important things in life are small and vulnerable? Aren’t relationships built or destroyed by the little things we do and say? How about confidence? Skills that we learn? Can’t a little bit of salt make a big difference to the taste of a meal?
To search for the one “big idea” or “grand vision” may be to begin at the wrong end. To make a big impression might be to give attention to the small things. Are we people known for our encouragement? For our willingness to listen? Are we people who are sharing? Compassionate?
Jesus often pointed to the importance of the little things: note the parables concerning yeast, mustard seeds, salt and light. It only takes a small amount to make a big difference.
When Jesus mentioned to Peter that he had the keys of the kingdom, it may well have been something small but significant that he was referring to. And next time you reach for the keys to open the door or start the car, remember the power of the little things.
August 17, 2003