Small Beginnings


5 Jun, 2020


By Ali Laing, Next Generation Development Coordinator

In July 1994 a businessman decided to make a radical change. Whilst safe in a well laid and influential job he began to observe the Dotcom boom. Web-based businesses were springing up literally changing the way people lived their lives. He took a relatively modest business start-up loan and started Cadabra, an online bookseller. No fancy offices or distribution centre, Cadabra started operations in his parents’ garage!

Fast forward 26 years and this company has changed aspects of life for the vast majority of the world’s population. In fact, the majority of us reading this article have purchased something from it or received a gift from it, especially during the past two months of confinement. That businessman is the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos and the company is better known now as Amazon.

Now, before you think this is a message about believing that anything is possible and that all small things must grow bigger. Or a message promoting churches developing business-based growth strategies. It’s not!

In the prophet Zechariah’s 5th vision, he writes of the rebuilding of the temple and within it he sees the completion of the task with Zerubbabel placing the final stone in place. The vision seems to have come just as the temple rebuilding began, but it would seem the reality of completion was some way off. Zechariah writes, “‘Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?’”

Zechariah seems to be seeing something of what God wants to be established on earth, and communicates this to presumably encourage those that were at the beginning of a big job of rebuilding. The challenge is not to despise the small starts but see beyond to the finished work, fully reliant on God to complete it.

I do find the Amazon story an interesting one, not because a small thing became a massive thing (although there is lots to learn through that journey). But rather I am interested that in the midst of comfort a person saw something more. A possibility beyond his current circumstances and stepped out in ‘faith’ believing that what he was perceiving would lead to a prosperous future.

We are living in unprecedented times, the phrase ‘the new normal’ is commonplace and as a global community we are all beginning to emerge into a different way of living life. Recently the church in Scotland could be seen as being concerned about ‘small endings’ with rapidly shrinking attendance and fellowships regularly closing. Maybe we need to embrace the ‘new normal’ and see our place in Scotland as small beginnings? Small beginnings that are not to be despised. In connect this month you will read stories of hope that have come from small beginnings.

We need to see beyond our circumstances and see that God is able to do incredible things, if we can take the time to see things as he sees them. Jesus saw beyond his time and spoke powerfully to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14) He saw that this small, disorganised and fearful group of followers would do incredible things, even greater than the things Jesus himself did. If they looked to him and were reliant on him for their needs.

So, we will begin to come out into our ‘new normal’, my hope and prayer is that we firstly see the opportunities that God is calling us too. There are many! That we don’t despise the small state we find ourselves in but rather turn to God to see a vision of what is possible in Him and place our prayers, time and energies there.

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Prayer is at the heart of our Union. The prayer calendar is a framework to help individuals or congregations pray for all our churches throughout the year.  Every Sunday evening several hundred people from our churches across Scotland join in our National Prayer Livestream.