God calls the things that are not…as though they are….

12 years ago, my husband and I started Emmaus Church with my parents, Mike and Jeanne Dean. I remember in the very early days, before our first service at Emmaus even began, we joined together with Living Water Church to do a Christmas program. I wrote up a short and fun theatrical program with various sketches between modern times and the Christmas story.  During rehearsal of a readers theater segment of the play, I was trying to explain to the teens involved why it was such a strange thing that angels announced that the Messiah, God’s son, was born in Bethlehem. (Their reading was a little boring and unmoving. They needed to get this, so everyone wouldn’t be falling asleep during the program.) “Bethlehem was small, it was really a nothing town in the shadow of Jerusalem. It was a rural area with farmers, shepherds and a very famous Inn. 😉 God is big, powerful and mighty. Bethlehem is small.” As I got blank stares all around, no one really seemed to get the significance of the Son of the living God being born in a small town. One young sophomore girl who was not a believer in Jesus at that time, joined us to participate in the play. She suddenly brightened up and said, “Oh! You mean like Berryville?” I had never heard of the town Berryville before, (Although, you may have seen us on a Wendy’s commercial for their strawberry and blueberry salad a few years ago! They took over our little main street to shoot this commercial. Free salads, anyone?!) Now, my kids go to school here, play ball here and we have labored for the Lord in this town for the past 11 years. Some of my best friends ever are from Berryville! I have grown to love this little community, but this was the first time that name crossed my ear drums. “What’s Berryville?” I asked. (Having recently moved here from Indiana.) “Oh, it’s a little farming town with one stop light.” She laughed in a way that only young teen girls can. (Slight exaggeration, of course…) Bingo! I jumped on board the analogy! “Well, that is exactly what I’m thinking! How funny would it be for God to send his son to be born and announced to the world from somewhere like Berryville.” Now, the lights went on! Everyone started laughing. Connection! But, seriously. After all these years, I see the parallel even more. Here is Berryville, in the shadow of  “The Mountain”, sandwiched between the richest county in the United States, Loudon County and Winchester, VA, a very thriving and growing city with a bit of notoriety for it’s celebrity appearances at the yearly Apple Blossom Festival. One of the Jonas brothers is going to be here in May, so imagine the hubabaloo about that. Somehow, what comes to mind the quickest is what people said about Jesus’s early stomping ground of Nazareth, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  One of the reasons some people rejected Jesus was that he came from a little town. We can apply that to any little town or place or person. “Can anything amazing come out of Clarke County?” “Can anything good come out of that kid?” “Can anything good come out of that community college?” “Can anything good come out of that entry level job?” “Can anything good come out of that teen strung out on drugs?” “Can anything good come out of that abused woman or neglected child?” The short and easy answer is, “YES!” God takes the little things of the world, the despised things of the world, the things that are not and calls them as they are. God looks not on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. In fact, one of the things God loves to do is to spring up unexpectedly from places no one expects him, like a voluntary tomato plant in your flower garden from the cookout last year when a small child spit their half-chewed up tomato into your tulips. He springs up in places where no one thinks it is possible or likely. God does not want us to despise things that are little or things that seem unimportant to people. He took David, a shepherd boy and the youngest of many strong, older brothers and defeated Goliath and then made him the most famous King of Israel and of all time, for that matter. So, maybe you feel like your place in life is small. Maybe you feel small. God can use you. God can bring great and mighty things out of people that just seem the most unlikely. He is in the business of showing his greatness this way. So, if you feel little, down, sick or small. If you feel everyone is passing you by for greater things, WATCH OUT! You are a prime candidate for God to reveal his glory through you. Surrender, today. Surrender your smallness and ask God to make his greatness shine. Ask Jesus for the father to get the glory in your life and where you are.

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