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Little but Important Things

It’s usually the little things in life that make the difference. Perhaps we can’t see the significance, potential, or danger of such things at the moment, but time tells, and they are proven to be very important.

Take, for instance, some of the following “little” things that occurred on this day in history and that proved, in the end, to be greatly significant.

In 1873, P.T. Barnum introduced to New York City what he promoted as “The Greatest Show on Earth.” That was the beginning of what became the great Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, which has provided entertainment for millions of “ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages” (as the ringmaster dutifully announced at every performance). Perhaps you have been one of those millions who enjoyed Barnum’s show. This reminds us that big things often start out small, so don’t despise the small beginnings.

In 1888, J.J. Laud patented the ballpoint pen. Think of how many fountain-pen ink blots and ruined shirt pockets his invention prevented. Think of how many ballpoint pens you’ve used over the years, how many checks you’ve written (and endorsed) with such pens, and, writers, how many words those pens have written. This reminds us that it often takes little tools to accomplish great results.

In 1938, a young Orson Welles wrote and aired a fictional radio play titled “The War of the Worlds,” and he scared nearly to death a large portion of the American population  with his real-sounding “news” reports that seemingly interrupted regular broadcasting. Think of the power of words over our imaginations, causing us to believe what only sounds real. This reminds us that even well-intentioned actions sometimes have unforeseen consequences.

In 1945, a prescient old businessman signed a contract with a young, talented black baseball player named Jackie Robinson to play with the Montreal Royals. Look where he went with that! He opened the door to hundreds of talented but theretofore marginalized players to compete and excel in the big leagues. This reminds us not to overlook the obvious right under our noses.

In 1952, Clarence Birdseye packaged and sold the first frozen peas, revolutionizing the way Americans processed, preserved, and served that (and later other) humble vegetable. Think of how much time and money he saved the average American consumer and how much food he enabled the public to use with his new way of preservation. This reminds us that a little idea can soon be used for a great number of applications.

And just this week another “little” thing happened that, although it has little significance to other people, was a big deal for me and my wife. My brother and his wife stopped by for a visit during their wedding anniversary trip. Now you must understand that in past years, my brother has seldom had the time to stop for a visit; he merely blew in, said hello, and blew out. He was just too busy. Too many places to go for speaking engagements, etc. But this trip was different. He brought his wife with him and actually spent two nights. Unheard of–until now. This reminds us to value people, especially those closest to us in relationship if not in geographic proximity, while we may.

So count the blessings of the small things in life. Look for them. Enjoy them. Thank the Lord for them. Learn from them. How different life might be without such “little” things.

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