Eight reasons it's okay to stay small (and how you are made great)

It’s what I preach to myself when things feel too heavy. When I’m tempted to shoulder burdens not meant for me. When the world is whizzing by and the do-list is already too long and there’s another need that I’m tempted to try to meet but I have no more strength.
It’s okay to live your proper size, because:

  1. It’s reality. God is big; you are small. He is the source of all; you are dependent for every breath. And this is the way He wants it. The world says “Be independent”; God says “Come closer.”
  2. It’s part of the deal. Whom God creates, He carries. From birth to death, from creation to eternity. “Listen to me. . . you whom I have upheld since your birth and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and grey hairs, I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  (Isaiah 46:3-4)
  3. He who carries is strong. And He is Love. He can be trusted.
  4. It’s His work, not your own. You are His work, not your own. (Eph 2:10) That means you don’t have to fix yourself before coming back to snuggle small in his arms.  The call is not to make yourself (or your world) flawless, but to lean in to the One who can make you complete and let him do his work in and through you. (John 15:4-5)
  5. He is still in control. Yes, really. You don’t have to be.
  6. God alone can be everything to everyone. You are only asked to please One.
  7. You have nothing to prove because it has already been proven: you are to die for.
  8. You are small but precious. A tiny speck in the universe, but wildly significant because His love has made you great.

His love has made you great

It’s this last that I’ve been turning over and over in my mind for months. I want to whisper it to my millionaire neighbors as they show me their 5000 square foot rooftop balcony, speak of the amenities on their boat in the Mediterranean.  You can stop trying to prove your value. There is a love that has resolved to make you great. 

I want to cry it to the lame and speechless old man who shuffles behind his empty wheelchair onto the bus in a white gown that doesn’t quite cover his knees, stooping three times to reclaim the unlit cigarette that has fallen from his lips, again, again, again, replacing the filthy stick in his mouth. There’s moreThere is a love that has resolved to make you great.
I ache to shout it to each heart weary from carrying burdens it was not meant to carry. There is a love that has resolved to make you great. You can rest because you already matter.
I heard the words first from a man who has spent a lifetime digging deep into the heart of God. It’s the best definition of love that he knows.

“Love is the resolve to make the loved party great.” (J.I. Packer)

It’s exactly what our God is doing. He created us in his own image, made us to be as like Him as created beings can be (“. . . a little lower than Elohim” – than God! Psalm 8:5). He loves us as He loves his own Son (John 17:23). He allows us to touch His heart and know His thoughts (1 Cor 2:9-16): to speak and listen, to desire and be desired, to know and be intimately known as the bride of the God of the universe.
In this, our union with Him, lies our truest greatness. A few years ago I read an article which helped me see:

“[Kate] must curtsy to ‘blood princesses’ when Prince William, her husband, is not present (when they are together, she retains his status)” ie. “When he’s there, they cursty to her.” (McLeans, July 16, 2012, p. 34)

When they are together she retains his status. So with us. God is big; we are small. He true royalty, we commoners. The distance between God and us is real. But so is the fact that his love is great enough to close the distancecalling us deep into a Lover-Beloved relationship with Himself.
We are in Him and He in us, inseparable once He makes us His own. And so we retain His status, loved as the Father loves the Son, made to rule along with him (1 Cor 6:2-3; Dan 7:18,27; Rev 20:4; 5:9-10), given a part in his work of shalom-making in the world. Small, yet great. Great, yet still small. And called to make our home in the only place where we can learn to live the mystery of our small-great size.

 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me; make yourselves at home in my love.” (John 15:9 The Message)


Is there one of the eight reminders listed at the top that you want to carry into your day to help you remember it’s okay to stay small even as you take your next step into greatness— that it’s only in staying small that we ever do step into our truest greatness?


An edited repost from the archives, part of a summer series leaning into God’s repeated command to remember.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. jerralea

    Oh my! There is such food for thought in this post!
    The one that first resonated with me is this: “You are His work, not your own. (Eph 2:10) That means you don’t have to fix yourself before coming back to snuggle small in his arms.”
    Sigh … I’m always wanting to fix myself!

    1. I’m so often wanting to fix myself too—seems a hard habit to break. But isn’t it wonderful how God stays patient with us and just keeps gently inviting us to come back and rest in His love once again? Even right smack in the middle of trying to fix myself, I can sometimes hear Him whisper, “THIS is where I want to love you!”

  2. Nancy Stack

    love love love!!  shared this many who will love it!Thanks for your faithfulness in serving Him & us by speaking rich truth to our hearts! i’m sure I will never forget the image of the curtsey rule! When we are with HIM we retain His status!Now that is BIG!!!   hugs to you dear one! nancy

  3. someonequiet

    Thank you for these words. They really encouraged me. For reasons I don’t fully understand, I have been feeling very small and fragile lately. The reminder that I don’t have to fix myself, make myself presentable before I come to the Lord, is very a timely and strengthening thought. Thank you for sharing it. Hannah

    1. Thanks so much for sharing that, Hannah. May you know yourself gently and securely held by Someone who is delighting in you as His precious and fragile treasure.

  4. momfan

    All eight of these reasons are so powerfully true and such helpful reminders that I’ve printed off a copy to keep in my file for teaching this fall. I too ache for these kids to experience His “to-die-for” love, and keeping these reminders front and centre will help me stay small and let His love make me great. Thanks once more, Love, for your profound insights! Love you! Mom

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