26 letters teach value of small things

Like most ministers, I have great respect for the value of words. And in the routine of speaking and writing I spend a huge chunk of my time stringing words together to, hopefully, communicate something of value.

The entire process of arranging words in a sequence to communicate is an incredibly fascinating science, and it is all done through the use of words.

What intrigues me even more is that all of this occurs through words made from combinations of 26 letters.

Just think about it. Only 26 letters allow us to create a seemingly limitless number of words. Webster's 3rd International Dictionary claims 450,000 words. The Global Language Monitor claims the number of words to be in excess of 1 million.

Think of all the communication that takes place through the Internet every minute. Think of all the great speeches that have been delivered.

I am told that 24,000 different words can be counted in the works of Shakespeare, 1,700 of which he invented himself. A book is published somewhere in the world every 30 seconds, and a huge percentage of that number in the English language. All of that takes place because of 26 letters!

The power of the alphabet reminds me that amazing things can happen from small numbers. That fact is true for business, for church, for community service and for personal fulfillment. “Bigger” is not always better.

Great social movements have begun with a few people who share a common passion. Consider Mother Teresa. She took what God gave her and she changed the way we think of the world around us. So much good came from one simple life, and her passion grew from her belief in the one single life born in Bethlehem.

So, if you are struggling with a sense of “smallness” in your life and are trying to make something significant happen, don't write it off just because it does not qualify as big.

Think of the 26 letters that, when arranged in different ways, become the basis for all our communication. “Bigger” is not always the answer. More often it is taking the small gifts of time and energy and passion that come to us and using them to create a language that is huge.

The Rev. Al Cadenhead leads Providence Baptist Church.