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“Nothing more than nothing” can be significant

Regular columnist James Knight thinks back to the snow we had this winter and finds encouragement for those of us who consider our contribution to the Kingdom of God to be insignificant.

Here's an age-old story that has an important truth attached to it- a truth that looks to show that what seems like very insignificant details are often very important in a situation. 
‘Tell me the weight of a snowflake’ a coal tit asked a wild dove. 
‘Nothing more than nothing’ was the answer.
‘In that case I must tell you a story’ the coal tit said.  ‘I sat on the bench of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow heavily, without a sound and without any violence.  I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch.  Their number was exactly 3,741,952.  When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch, “nothing more than nothing” as you say, the branch broke’.
The moral of the story is simple: although one snowflake weighs virtually nothing, the weight of each one is very significant when added together. As Christians we must keep reminding ourselves that it is precisely the little details through which great things can and usually do happen. We may be making a difference in all sorts of ways that do not always register as important.
For all we know, something we do or something we say could be for someone the final snowflake that breaks their branch of scepticism.  Maybe each snowflake was an experience perceived with little value at the time - but experiences add up, and we must always act as though every small gesture, or every piece of wisdom might be the defining element that brings about a positive change in someone’s life. 
And of course, even if it is not, it could be one more snowflake that brings their brand of scepticism closer to the drop – we might be laying a snowflake ready for someone else to add something better. 
One of the key principles regarding our striving to make a difference is the initial self-belief in our own abilities to impact our world. Differences in character should primarily be observed with the purposes of striving for better things, but we should not feel isolated from the qualities of great human beings either.
All the great people that God chose to do His work - from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon, to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel and Habakkuk, right through to St Peter and St Paul - were all remarkable human beings, who did great things for God. But all were saddled with sin and grievous errors of judgement at certain times in their lives. They were given very privileged positions in their work with God, but they too had difficult times, and that ought to encourage us. 
We should be greatly encouraged by this and also inspired to go on and try to achieve great things.

The above image is courtesy of


JamesKnight300James Knight is a local government officer based in Norwich, and is a regular columnist for Christian community websites Network Norfolk and Network Ipswich. He also blogs regularly as ‘The Philosophical Muser’, and contributes articles to UK think tanks The Adam Smith Institute and The Institute of Economic Affairs, as well as the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).


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