Fly the Kite
January 22, 2021
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In the mid-eighteenth century, the only way to cross the Niagara Gorge was by boat. On November 9, 1847, a civil engineer named Charles Ellet Jr. was commissioned to build a suspension bridge across the chasm. Ellet naturally chose the narrowest neck, but it still presented an impossible challenge. How do you stretch the first wire across an 800-foot gorge with 225-foot cliffs on either side and rapids that rush toward a waterfall?
At dinner one night, Ellet’s team brainstormed ways of getting that first cable across the chasm. One person proposed a rocket. Another suggested a cannon. That’s when Theodore Graves Hulett came up with a rather ingenious idea—a cash prize for a kite flying contest.
In January 1848, hundreds of kids tried flying kites across the gorge. If you know anything about weather conditions in that part of the country at that time of year, that’s pretty impressive! A fifteen-year-old American named Homan Walsh took the ferry from the American side to the Canadian side to take advantage of the prevailing winds. He flew his kite all day, all night. When his kite string broke, he had to wait eight days to cross back over by ferry. He retrieved the kite, made repairs, and crossed over again. On January 30, 1848, Walsh’s kite made it across the gorge, winning him the ten-dollar cash prize! The day following that successful flight, a stronger line was attached to the kite string and pulled across. Then an even stronger line. Then a rope. Then a cable consisting of thirty-six strands of ten-gauge wire.
I don’t think Charles Ellet Jr. ever imagined the impact his bridge would have. I’m not sure that Homan Walsh even cared. But their efforts enabled millions of honeymooners, like my mom and dad, to steal a kiss. And it all started with one kite string! It always does, doesn’t it? As God said to the prophet Zechariah, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Plumb line, kite string—same difference!
Does God delight in our accomplishments? Like a proud parent. And not just the big accomplishments! According to this verse from Zechariah, it’s the little things that produce disproportionate celebration. The Israelites hadn’t even broken ground on the temple yet. All they’d done was measure, and God was already giving them a standing ovation! Our heavenly Father celebrates the little steps of faith, the small acts of kindness. In fact, you can’t give someone a drink of water without God taking notice! God is great not just because nothing is too big. God is great because nothing is too small.
Now let me flip that script.
I know people who say they’ll give more when they make more. I’m not buying what they’re selling. I know people who say they’ll serve more when they have more time. We’ve already debunked that myth. You don’t find time; you make time! And I know people who think they’ll be ready to step up when the big opportunity presents itself. Not if they aren’t taking advantage of little opportunities right here, right now!
How you do anything is how you’ll do everything.
We want to do amazing things for God, but that isn’t our job. Our job is to consecrate ourselves to God. Then God does amazing things for us. It starts with the fourth habit—fly the kite. It’s doing little things like they’re big things. Go ahead and dream big, but start small. The good news? If you do little things like they’re big things, God will do big things like they’re little things. That’s how kite strings turn into suspension bridges.
If you aren’t making little sacrifices right now, you aren’t ready.
If you aren’t taking little risks right now, you aren’t ready.
Little by little, bad habits are broken.
Little by little, good habits are built.
Little by little, dreams become reality.
Excerpted from Win the Day: 7 Daily Habits to Help You Stress Less & Accomplish More. Copyright © 2020 by Mark Batterson. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.