I visited our library this week, and on the display table was a little book that caught my eye. It wasn't a book I needed - I had already checked out my reading material for the week - but it mysteriously drew me in. The little book was a collection of previously unpublished short stories written by Louisa May Alcott in the 1800's. It was titled "The Quiet Little Woman: A Christmas Story."
The editor, a self-proclaimed "literary prospector," had found Alcott's stories in an obscure magazine and republished them as a "new" literary treasure, more than 100 years after her death.
They took only an hour or so to read, but they were deliciously wonderful! And nestled into the first few pages was another treasure which I want to share with you here. It is a poem entitled "Little Things."
A spider is a little thing,
But once a spider saved a king;
The little bees are wiser far
Than buffaloes or lions are...
A little pen may write a word
By which a nation shall be stirred.
A little money, wisely spent,
A world of sorrows may prevent;
A little counsel, rightly given,
May lift a sinful soul to Heaven...
A little fault, if left to grow,
An emperor may overthrow;
A little word but spoke in jest,
May rob your neighbor of his rest;
A little selfishness and pride
The kindest household may divide.
Little vices many times
Out-Herod felonies and crimes;
And little virtues in the sum
Great excellencies do become.
_From the "Melodies for Children collection", circa 1800s.
Ironically, this sweet poem was not written by Alcott. It was written for a home-produced magazine by the 5 Lukens sisters, who were contemporaries of Louisa May Alcott. By the time Alcott heard of this self-published magazine (which so remarkably resembled the one she had created with her own sisters), she herself was a renowned author, having delivered her family from a life of poverty with her words. But she took the time to notice the "little things" this younger group of sisters was publishing, and by her encouragement they, too, published greater things.
Alcott's stories and the Lukens girls' poem illustrate an enduring truth: that it's the little things that matter most. Little stories or virtues, a little encouragement given in times of need, little steps towards faithfulness - all these grow and are rewarded in the end. We seek the grander things because we are human, but we often fail to realize how important the little things really are. A look back over time affords us the perspective that we need, to understand how God is putting our lives together, piece by piece, moment by moment, until His reach extends far beyond our own.
So this Christmas season, I want to thank each one of you readers for the "little things" you have done for me. Many of you have responded to my words with the same compassion that Alcott showed to the Lukens girls. I deeply appreciate your calls, your emails, and your encouragement along the way. And I pray that the little things I have written here will one day be made greater things in the hand of an all-encompassing God, who knows the end from the beginning, and who takes the little things of our lives and shapes them into wondrous stories for His eternal glory.
"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones."
Luke 16:10, NLT
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping others connect with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at HisInscriptions.com. You can also follow Deborah on Twitter@DeborahSPerkins.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.