Every Little Thing

by Nan Corbitt Allen

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

Neo-Impressionist French painter Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859-1891) developed a technique in art called pointillism. The pictures on the canvases he created look optically complete and most pleasing. His most famous example of pointillism is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

This painting was not made with broad strokes of the artist’s brush, but with thousands of tiny dots. Each dot is a pure color ingeniously added to the canvas one at a time so that they blend into an image when viewed from a distance. This is a classic case of “art imitating life”—for life isn’t lived in grand broad strokes or big events. It is a collection of tiny specks—ordinary people, underwhelming places, and forgettable things. Each of these may seem individually irrelevant, but when examined under a spiritual microscope, these minutiae create a portrait that can only be realized when seen from a distance—from God’s point of view.

Since the beginning of 2020, I have heard many vow that this new decade will be the one in which they will see everything clearly—20/20—like visual acuity of clarity and sharpness. It is a noble pursuit. However, being able to see what this decade, this year, or even this day will bring is impossible. Our lives are mostly made up of one mundane (but sometimes unexpected) event after another.

Taking a lesson from Seurat, let’s realize that we’re seeing only those minute dots of day-to-day that don’t seem significant at all. In the here-and-now it’s hard to grasp the big picture. But the Master Artist, God Almighty, Alpha and Omega can see the whole thing. In Revelation John records the words of Christ, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13 NASB).

I like to think of God’s plan for me as constantly “unfolding” like the pages of a book or the petals of a flower.  That’s why the Scripture at the beginning of this devotion has become so important to me. The psalmist writes, “As your plan unfolds, even the simple can understand it” (Psalm 119:130 TLB ). I’m pretty simple, so I get it.

Several writers (Emerson and T. S. Eliot to name two) have been quoted as saying something like “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  Or “The journey, not the destination matters …”  Our journeys are made up of one heartbeat, one step at a time, so the tiny dots of every day create the grander, broader picture. And not one of those dots is insignificant.

If I may, I’ll take a slight liberty with Paul’s words on the subject:

And we know that God causes all [little] things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

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Every Little Thing – encouragement from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Have you had an experience in which you suddenly understood how the dots fit together?

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On Languages—And Languishes

by Rhonda Rhea

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”                                                                                                                                   Psalm 119:130 ESV

I’ve been taking a look at some interesting dead languages recently. You know, like Latin, Ancient Egyptian, Sanskrit, Comic Sans, and Cursive.

Ah, cursive. I was actually fluent in that one at one time. My kids still ask me why we ever had it. Anytime they ask, I get a little defensive and act all hoity-toity and superior, but I only do it to distract them from the fact that I don’t actually have a real answer.

It’s fascinating to me that while some languages languish, new ones burgeon. For instance, I’m still trying to learn to speak “Laundry.” According to the hieroglyphs they now use, I’m pretty sure I have to wash at least a couple of new shirts inside the royal crown of Denmark and dry them in some sort of crop circle. What’s especially weird is that I don’t even remember leaving this planet to buy these shirts.

Language barriers can be challenging. Especially when you run into them out of the blue. I encountered a real one not long ago. I ordered a blender, and the entire instruction booklet was in Korean. I finally figured out how to make a smoothie, but probably only because I was already studying to learn the language of Laundry. I guess glyphs are glyphs. My smoothie does taste a little like liquid Tide, but maybe that’s just me.

When it comes to spiritual things, however, I never want to be unaware of barriers. You don’t have to look far to find that the foolish philosophies of this world are sneaky. They know how to speak your language, as it were. You can find them creeping into your patterns of thinking before you notice, maybe even hindering your capacity to receive real truth. Sometimes we do notice them creeping in but decide to just let them soak there for a bit anyway. We may catch ourselves listening to the world’s foolish thoughts so often and for so long that they start to sound right to us.

That’s one more reason we need to stay committed to making God’s Word part of our everyday life—our deepest heart-language. His Word makes its way through barriers of foolishness, exposing it as the folly it is. We’re told in Proverbs 15:14 that “a discerning mind seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.” (HCSB) Feeding on foolishness? That’ll taste worse than laundry soap every time.

A steady diet of “laundry detergent” will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Constantly feeding our minds and hearts on all kinds of media that is contrary to God’s Word will put up a barrier between us and the truth, giving us a skewed view of right and wrong. That’s when unreasonable fear, hoity-toity pride, silly doubt—and a long list of other negatives—color our decisions and steal our joy and fruitfulness. All those who deny the truth and malign the wisdom of God and His Word? They’re just not speaking our language.

Barriers crumble against the Word of God. The Bible teaches the language of wise, pure living. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your Word. I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:9, 11  HCSB).

There’s a life-changing message there, in any language.

Incidentally, while translating the blender directions, I may also have accidentally deciphered the location of an ancient secret treasure. It’s that or their customer service info. Whichever.

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What of the world’s foolishness may have crept into your way of thinking?

Photo by Gonard Fluit on Unsplash

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