Martha Berry, who died in 1942, founded the Berry School for Needy Children at Mount Berry, Georgia. One time she asked Henry Ford for a million dollars to help her school. He gave her a dime.
Most people would probably have told him to keep his lousy dime, but Martha took it and bought some peanuts for her students to plant. Eventually, they harvested those peanuts and planted more the next season. Then they did it again. And again. Finally, they harvested and sold enough peanuts to buy a piano for the school.
But here’s the best part of the story.
Martha Berry wrote to Henry Ford and told him what they had done with the dime he gave her. He was so impressed by her can-do spirit and ingenuity that he had her come to Detroit, where he personally handed her a check for one million dollars.*
It is very common for us to undervalue things because they are small. A small amount of money is thought to be worthless. A small church is thought to have little influence. A small athlete is thought to be disadvantaged. A small job is thought to be unimportant. It’s no wonder so many people feel deprived and unblessed. They’re constantly undervaluing some of the best things in life.
Jesus forever affirmed the value of small things when he bragged about the poor widow who dropped two cents into the offering when she went to worship. (Mark 12;41-44) The rich, highfalutin folks were dropping in huge sums of money, while her gift was what my great-grandma would have called “piddly.” But Jesus didn’t call it that. He said she was the most generous person in attendance that day.
Jesus also talked about the power of small faith (Matthew 17:20), the influence of small people (Matthew 18:2-3), and the value of small deeds. (Matthew 25:35)
Don’t let the smallness of a thing fool you. Small can be very, very big.
For further reflection read Proverbs 30:24-28, Matthew 5:18, and Luke 16:10.
*Kent Crocket, Making Today Count For Eternity (Sisters: Multnomah, 2001), 149-150