Relentlessly day and night thundering waves crash against our coast reshaping shoals and occasionally even pulling down a section of a cliff. Each day tons of water barrel over Niagara Falls forcefully eroding back the location of the falls’ descent.
To be a small part of something large and powerful, like a drop of water caught up in the power of an advancing wave, energizes most people. But how do people feel about being a drop of water in a small puddle? Can puddles be powerful?
God has a different view of puddles than we typically do. An army of 32,000 men had turned out to follow Gideon into battle. The Lord said, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands.”/1 What? Who has ever heard of too many? But the Lord hamstrung human arrogant self-confidence by cutting that number down to a puddle; 300 men to be exact. Then the power of the Lord would be known by all.
Most people would probably have the same perceptions if they were to visit the various congregations in Asia Minor during the first century. The church at Sardis was a happening place./2 Perhaps their reputation for being alive involved the same characteristics which churches today are considered to be going places. Possibly the church at Sardis offered a wide variety of ministries and had grown large. Being a drop at Sardis would have been encouraging! But the Lord saw things differently. “You are dead,” were his words. Just because a wave energizes us is no guarantee of success.
Conversely, the congregation at Philadelphia might be quickly forgotten. After all, since it possessed “little strength” it was just a puddle./3 However the commendation of the Lord gushed over this little group. “You have kept my message … since you have kept my message to be steadfast, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which is going to come on the whole world.”/4
What is the kingdom of heaven like? Jesus said, it is like a tiny mustard seed or a little bit of yeast, which on the one hand grows to create a large plant where birds can rest in its branches or on the other permeates a whole lump of dough transforming it. God is not limited by size./5
Each situation brings its own challenges. In a wave or a mighty river, a drop might be tempted to trust in the momentum of the numbers, more so than in the Lord. Such a vision of human success and power could anesthetize a drop to the possibility that the river is flowing in the wrong direction.
On the other hand, a tiny pool of water can be a discouraging place unless genuine depth and spiritual growth have taken root. Since belonging to a puddle does not promote a sense of power and hope based on size, a deeper answer is needed. The opportunity to trust in the Lord will be ever present. While the Lord is not limited to using puddles, often his power can be seen all the more clearly through them.
1/ Judges 7:2
2/ Revelation 3:1
3/ Revelation 3:8
4/ Revelation 3:8, 10
5/ Matthew 31-33
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