Little Faith, Big God

Image 2-29-20 at 5.30 PM


Opening the pages of Debbie Wilson’s new book, Little Faith, Big God, was something I anticipated ever since she shared a bit about her plan for it. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament is a favorite of mine and the well-known chapter about faith (Hebrews 11) was bound to be a treasure trove of discoveries and her book did not disappoint.


The book is written as an eight-week Bible study with each of the weeks divided into five bite-sized sections to be read on five different days with questions to nudge the reader to dig deeper and find personal application from these heroes of the faith.


Debbie’s heart for this passage is evident within a few pages of opening the book as she writes:


“Reading how God dealt with his flawed children in Hebrews 11 has helped me give myself grace when I mess up.”


How right she is!


And how much we all need that reminder. Reading this book has given me fresh glimpses of that in my own life and nuggets to ponder long after I finished reading the last page. We read and hear much about faith, but there are few places that condense what faith looks like as it is lived out as Hebrews 11 does.


We look at the names of the heroes in this chapter, but it isn’t likely any one of them would have considered him or herself a hero back then. A careful reading of the life of each one shows each with more than a few imperfections and despite how small faith might have been, our big God showed up to demonstrate He could be trusted and was exactly who He said He was.


Debbie says it so well:


“God is like the ocean; I’m like a child trying to understand the mysteries of the deep from my small pail of water. I can’t understand someone so much greater than I am. But I can trust that he is wiser and more loving than I can imagine.”


A study of Hebrews 11 reminds us that God loves us even though we mess up. He knew we would and that is why Jesus died to remove sin that separated us from Him.


“God does not weigh our good deeds against our bad ones. He weighs our sin by whether we’ve trusted or rejected Jesus.”


If you haven’t delved into Hebrews 11 for a bit, this book will remind you of how varied the lives of these heroes are. We see Enoch who walked with God in close friendship, Noah who built an ark to save creation from the judgment of the flood despite it never having rained on the earth, Jacob, the deceiver, and more. When we think about who they were and what we know about them, it is hard to imagine how they made it into the “hall of fame of faith.”


As Debbie guides you through Hebrews 11 you will be reminded how the lives of those we read about point to foundation stones for us to stand on:


“God’s more concerned with what he is accomplishing in me than what I’m achieving. His goal is to teach me to trust him.”


Throughout this book Debbie shares bits of her own faith journey and how God proved himself over and over again. In the process, you see how God has grown faith in her and uses it to nudge us in our own faith journey.


I confess that I am not a huge fan of books that are written as Bible studies. Too often the stories march across the page in lock step with things I have already heard and the questions do not poke me to think more deeply, but Debbie’s book is different and if you have that sense from too many women’s Bible study books I want to encourage you to be refreshed by this one. I don’t think you will be disappointed – I certainly wasn’t.


A few lines before Debbie finishes the last page, she reminds us of a precious truth to savor:


“God’s story isn’t over.”





If Only We Learned



We read often about Solomon and his considerable wisdom. He asked for this gift when he was to be anointed as king and God blessed him with it. Even so, it did not prevent him from failing to recognize the folly of giving in to the lure of beautiful women of different religions and cultures that pulled him away from the faith of his father, David.


Reading words Solomon has written points to how keen the insight was that the Lord gave him despite his challenge to follow it faithfully all his days. If only he had learned what the Lord showed him.


All these many years later we are not so different.


A verse written by Solomon that often comes to mind is this:


“Catch the foxes for us,
    the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
    for our vineyards are in blossom.”

Song of Solomon 2:15 (ESV)



When I think of or read this verse it reminds me that it is the little things that get in the way of fruitfulness in my life. Solomon’s use of the word “little” brings to mind that too often little things get in the way of the important things meant to produce a rich harvest.


Reading and reviewing Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath, I read about the challenge researchers found when any of us experience “scarcity” whether that be in time or money. It’s that nagging challenge we face so often of “not enough.” It sends us looking at what to do next, but the research discovers something that lines up with the words of Solomon:


“…the harm is not that the big problems crowd out the little ones. The harm is that the little ones crowd out the big ones.”


How true!  How often we miss that or fail to learn this truth that is so valuable. But what happens when that happens?


Dan Heath quotes from the book, Scarcity, that doing this causes “tunneling.”  He goes on to describe “tunneling” this way:


“When people are juggling a lot of problems, they give up trying to solve them all. They adopt tunnel vision. There’s no long-term planning; there’s no strategic prioritization of issues.

…because it confines us to short-term, reactive thinking. In the tunnel there is only forward.”


What I think we miss in the process is how those little problems (“little foxes”) set up part of the problem with development or maintenance of the big problems. We must and do react to the big ones and miss the clues along the way so they nibble away and take time from the most important things.


We need space to increase the bandwidth to have the reserve of energy to look at the whole picture and plan so that the things that are meant to be reaped in our lives are not gobbled up or eroded.


Photo by Leo Cardelli from Pexels

Much of the time those “little foxes” are thoughts that nibble away and use time, energy and resources. Too often they lead us into temptation down “the yellow brick road” and on the way we lose our way. We yield to using our money, times, and gifts for impulsive choices that can upend us.


“When your emphasis is always forward, forward, forward, you never stop to ask whether you’re going in the right direction.” Dan Heath


I cannot help but wonder when I consider the wisdom of Dan Heath’s words if that was part of what happened to Solomon and so many of us in this fast-paced adrenaline pushing culture. It is so easy to succumb!


We look in the rearview mirror to simpler times when people talked to their neighbors over lawnmowers and picket fences or stopped by a front porch for a glass of iced tea. They elude most of us now unless we are on vacation or retired and many retirees keep up a steady stream of activities as well because the adrenaline addiction doesn’t always stop when we lay aside our work life.


The Apostle Paul gives us clear direction of how we address the issue Solomon talks about that takes us down too many “yellow brick roads.”


“We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.”

2 Corinthians 10:5 (TPT)


To follow this wise admonition of Paul’s we need to give ourselves some bandwidth to identify the “little foxes” and determine if we are indeed going in the right direction.






The Unseen Foe





What a paradox!


Darkness intrigues us, but also repels us. Darkness fascinates us and stirs up fear.


We meet darkness as young children with trepidation because our eyes cannot glimpse our parents. At those young ages, what we cannot see does not exist for us so we fear our safe place with safe people has evaporated. As we get a little older, flashlight tag and chasing fireflies on starry summer nights delight us. A bit later still, we risk riding roller coasters in the dark at Disney World and screech as we watch a Halloween movie.


When we open the book of Genesis, we see darkness, an inky blackness, at the outset and learn God separates or makes a clear distinction between darkness and light. Reading further we recognize God’s enemy has many names including “The Prince of Darkness”.


Nothing gives me more of a sense of what such an enemy looks like perhaps than the final scenes of The Fellowship of the Ring in The Lord of the Rings or the opening scenes of the sequel, The Two Towers.


The moviemaker presents a dark creature (Balrog) with some semblance of a man-shape made of shadow, fire, and flame that strikes terror into the company on the quest to destroy the evil ring of power.


Gandalf  turns to face the enemy and stand his ground on the Bridge of Khazad-dum.  He forcefully pounds his staff onto the bridge and says,


” You cannot pass. I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass.”


We breathe a sigh of relief as he skillfully wars against the creature, but when he believes the enemy is defeated he turns his back on him to join the others. We gasp as Gandalf discovers his foe has whipped a fiery lash around him pulls him into the abyss.


The movie trilogy of Tolkien’s epic work is a favorite of mine. I confess we own the expanded version and I have watched the series more than a few times. Each time I discover another nugget of truth in the twists and turns of the allegorical tale.


Each time I learn more about the battle that not only rages on the screen, but also in the real world we all live in. Each time I realize again that I am small, the enemies of darkness are big, but God is bigger still.


The movie trilogy reminds me of a battle that is largely unseen by the naked eye but leaves evidence of its existence. The trilogy also reminds me that these foes will not be ultimately and finally defeated until our Lord returns. Yet because of the cross, each of us who call upon His name is empowered to join the fight and stand with Him.


One other message from The Lord of the Rings trilogy stands out as truth. The fellowship is tested at many junctures and begins to break apart. However, it is not the many battles and skirmishes with various creatures of darkness that begin to undo the fragile alliance between men, dwarves, and elves.


Rather an unseen foe defeats one and then another in the fellowship. The foe, unrecognized by each, comes from a place of darkness inside of them that allows a chink in the armor. That place of darkness hidden within them, recognized by the enemies outside of them, neutralizes and defeats them.


This truth played out on the screen sobers me with a clear message. To defeat the darkness outside, I must first defeat the darkness inside that hides in the corners unconfessed in shame and give the enemy no quarter or opportunity.