I was 17 and much more interested in having a good time than in going to Bible study. Little did I know that was about to change… all because of some cookies (okay, maybe not all because of some cookies). Every Wednesday night before Bible class, one of the deacons’ families and a couple from the congregation in Alamosa, CO would make dinner for any college kids who wanted to come out to the deacon’s house. It was a little double wide out past the city limits and there wasn’t a whole lot of parking room, and we often packed the place to the limits. College kids with college kid-sized appetites seated on the floor, on the couch, around the table, standing room only on a few occasions. Sometimes it was spaghetti, sometimes roast or meatloaf. One thing was the same: chocolate chip cookie bars. Really buttery, gooey, thick chocolate chip cookie bars that kept you coming back for more. They did me, anyway. Kept me coming back until Bible study was something I was interested in. Interested enough to go to Monday night study… and Sunday services… and then to say yes when the campus minister asked if I’d like to study with him. A few short months later, these people were my family in Christ.
Hosting that dinner wasn’t easy on any of the people who were involved. There were health problems, financial obstacles, and long highway roads to travel, but they did it anyway, and I don’t think I’d be sitting her writing this article now without them. Encouraging you to do what you can, with what you have, where you are all to God’s glory and the building up of His kingdom wouldn’t be a top priority. But because using what they had was these people’s priority, because they’d devoted all they had to God, it’s my priority today 14 years later and, most importantly, I can call on Christ as my savior and God as my Father. What’s more, I’m not the only one who can say such things.
Tabitha made an impact with small acts as well. Acts 9:36 tells us that Tabitha was “abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” What kinds of things do you suppose she did? We know she made tunics and garments to give away, and I imagine there was more she did in her kindness and charity. When she got sick and died, they washed her body, put her in an upper room and went about mourning her death. Someone got the bright idea to send two men after Peter and tell him to come quickly. Come he did, and soon Tabitha was up and around again, no doubt back to her good deeds once more. With her acts of charity, she had made such an impact on the community of Joppa that her death and subsequent resurrection, when it became known all over the town, caused many to believe. Joppa was no small backwater town, either. It was a port city with fertile land surrounding. Here, Tabitha lived her life and through small acts, one after another, after another, she planted and watered seeds for Christ and His church.
Phoebe is another woman who, through small acts, left God’s mark on others. In Romans 16:1,2 Paul commends her in such a way that leads scholars to believe she carried the Roman letter to the church there. In his commendation, Paul says she has been a helper of many. The word for helper here refers to a patron, one who helps strangers, or a defender of a lower person (Zodhiates). Perhaps her helping was financial.
These are not necessarily women who did big, bold, headline-worthy acts, but they were noteworthy to God. And isn’t that what really counts? When you get down to it, His is the only opinion that matters, and He uses everything you give Him. We all have a choice every day: sit and wait for what we deem to be a big opportunity to serve, or seize the seemingly small opportunities presented to us daily. As one of our professors used to say, “A lot of littles adds up to one big.” It did for Tabitha and for Phoebe– or should I say for the Lord– and it can in your life as well.