Rev. Dr. Billy Burch
You Mean Something to God
The sun broke through a blue tapestry as cotton ball clouds drifted along aimlessly. A slight wind stirring the thirty-degree temperatures chilled the air. It was a perfect day for a walk. My family and I strolled along 47th and Baltimore Avenue toward Clark Park in Philadelphia, a favorite place for one of my sons. He stopped to say hello to a few of his friends passing by while I sat on a bench. That’s when I noticed a small detail: tiny footprints in what looked like new concrete sidewalks. I wondered who it was that might have had the inclination to accomplish that. To encase tiny feet into a public works project took some planning. Or maybe a few dollars in bribery.
Nevertheless, there they were. I laughed. Was there a family hiding behind a tree, waiting for the workers to finish, pack, leave, and quickly jump onto the soft and cold surface? Was it a son or daughter of one of the workers? Or could it have been a dare from a few wayward children to run as fast as they could, jump in and run back before being grabbed by one of the men in yellow hard hats? All the possible scenarios running through my mind caused me to smile. Harmless prank or meaningful gesture— there the feet were, telling a story.
Everyone has a story. Stories are comprised of chapters, staves, acts, and scenes. And if you are reading this, your story is not yet complete. You are in a chapter with many chapters preceding this current one, and many more to follow. Some of your chapters display resilience, some fear. Some of your chapters end jubilant, some miserable. Maybe yours right now is a mix of certainty and confusion. That’s OK. It’s what makes a story great. Suspense. Perseverance. Love. Triumph. Every story has these in some way or another.
You need to know this: the story of your life is significant. Every person on this planet, and that includes you, is:
a) created in the image of God
b) has a legitimate place on this earth
c) desires to make a meaningful impact
That being true, God sees to it that you have people to influence positively, someone to love, and something to do. Those things are immensely significant. It takes a bit of reflection, however, to realize it.
You see, people tend to look at life in such a way that minimizes the quiet things, things unnoticed to the larger audience. A great athlete finds themselves in the news. A talented artist finds her paintings hanging at a prominent gallery. A CEO gathers the stares of the employees while walking through the office. Don’t get me wrong, accomplishments are worth celebrating, whether your own or someone else’s. But let us never forget, let it never escape the cerebrum, that God most often sees the quiet things as significant.
Smile and say hello to a stranger walking by. Offer lunch to a homeless person. Say a true word of encouragement to someone. Bake a dozen cupcakes for a neighbor. Be the kindest person in the office. Put your arm around someone and pray for them when you see their tears. Invite someone to your house just to bless them. Give to a charity. These simple, seemingly mundane things are the things that change lives. I believe these are the subject matters in the headlines of heaven’s news sources.
It’s part of what Jesus means when He said:
“But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” Mark 10:31
You might say, “I’ve made some bad choices. Harmed myself in the process. And others. I’ve wasted opportunities. Can’t get back on track. Failure.”
Here’s what God says, “I have never written you off. Never will.”
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:48
“You will bear much fruit.” John 15:8
“You will see greater things.” John 1:50
“And surely I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20
God does something miraculous in all of us. He gives us the opportunity to shine His light.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Those things that bring the greatest good on earth, God equips us to do. Most of the time they are the smaller things, things behind the scenes, things not noticed by crowds. But think about this: it’s a word of hope and encouragement, an unexpected gift, a shoulder to cry on, laughter around the table… it’s those things that change lives. Those things change the world. And when you bring the hope which comes from God into the equation, you have offered someone the very best.
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment, for we know how dearly God loves us…” Romans 5:5
Here’s what God did— He took your feet and stuck them in His concrete sidewalk. That’s how much you mean to Him. That’s how you are honored in heaven. He will never forget you. You matter significantly to the King of the Universe. Go in that posture. Let the image of the little imprints of your feet reminds you to look at yourself the way God sees you: immensely valuable.