Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nothing is Little to God!

We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell,
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!

Phil was a young minister who was serving a church in Philadelphia. He was well liked by his church for his wonderful sermons and kind, moral spirit. He was an imposing figure who, at six feet four inches tall, commanded respect.

After serving the church in Philadelphia for several years, he took a lengthy vacation to Europe and the Holy Land. While he was in Palestine during the week of Christmas, he wrote the following, “After an early dinner, we took our horses and rode to Bethlehem. It was only about two hours when we came to the town, situated on an eastern ridge of a range of hills, surrounded by its terraced gardens. It is a good-looking town, better built than any other we have seen in Palestine. Before dark, we rode out of town to the field, where they say the shepherds saw the star. Somewhere in those fields we rode through, the shepherds must have been. As we passed, the shepherds were still 'keeping watch over their flocks.’

Can you imagine the thrill of being in that field during Christmas? It thrilled Phil. The images of being in that field at nighttime, during Christmas, made a huge impression on him. He never forgot the images and emotions of that night as he looked from the darkness of the field to the lights of the city of Bethlehem.

Several years later, Phil wrote a poem that he intended to be sung for the children in his Sunday School during Christmas. One Friday, he gave the poem to Lewis Redner, his minister of music, and asked him to set it to music by the following Sunday. Lewis tried all day Friday and Saturday, but nothing felt right. Lewis was stuck, and they were to practice the song the next day. He went to bed, still unsure of the tune. Lewis wrote of that night, “I was roused from sleep late in the night hearing an angel-strain whispering in my ear, and seizing a piece of music paper I jotted down the treble of the tune as we now have it, and on Sunday morning before going to church I filled in the harmony.”

Because of the hasty nature of the composition, neither man thought the song would ever be played after that Sunday. They were very wrong. That was 143 Christmases ago, and the two men’s composition, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” is still sung today. Phil, who is better known as Phillips Brooks, went on to become one of the most famous preachers in the nation in his day. In fact, there is a statue of him outside Trinity Church in the Back Bay area of Boston.

So many times, we think that our contribution to the world is small. We think that very few, if any, will ever be affected by our efforts to share Christ. However, we must remember that something small in our hands, becomes incredibly powerful in God’s.

Jesus didn’t appear on earth riding in a royal caravan with an entourage. He came in a very small, seemingly helpless package. He also didn’t send messengers to announce His arrival in the great city of Jerusalem, which was the hub of politics and religion in those years. His arrival was only noted to a few humble shepherds in a field, who were simply doing their jobs. Even the city of His birth was small compared to where one would expect a king to be born.

If God can use a baby, a small town, a stable, and some shepherds to accomplish His plan of salvation, then He can use whatever you have. If you give Him your all, He will use it to do wonderful and powerful things for His Kingdom, even if you never know it’s happening.

Our job is to simply be available and obey, not to guess what God can or cannot use. Phillips Brooks and Lewis Redner had no idea how God would use their song to bring future generations back to Bethlehem where the Savior was born one holy night, many years ago. We, also, never know how God can use us, until we let Him.

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2)



Ben Cabe said...

Excellent composition and encouragement. Thank you.

Ben Cabe

AKA Big Dog said...

Thanks for the compliment Ben. I enjoy writing, but this was one that I had a lot of fun putting together. God is truly wonderful. Without Him, I would never be able to come up with these ideas. May God continue to bless and encourage you!!