The “Low-Shelf Things” Might Be the Most Important Things of All

by Jennifer Dukes Lee December 9, 2022
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)

When I was a little girl, I was enamored with the colorful ceramic rooster that sat on a low shelf in Grandma’s kitchen. The rooster was about two fists high and held measuring spoons that plumed out from its back like feathers.

To me, it was beautiful. It was also breakable. Yet Grandma always said “yes” when I asked to hold it. I would remove the rooster from its low shelf, take each measuring spoon out and then put each one back in — over and over. I was extra careful because I didn’t want to lose Grandma’s trust in me.

After Grandma died, the time came to divide up her belongings. Each of the kids and grandkids was given an opportunity to keep something as a memento.

“What would you like, Jennifer?” my aunt asked.

I only wanted one thing.

“May I have the rooster?”

Wish granted.

No one else wanted the rooster, and I suppose it’s because, to some, it was a bit garish. Others of my relatives may have never noticed it. That rooster was perched on a low shelf for years — the perfect height for a child to see but out of sight for the “big people.”

The rooster now sits on a shelf in my own kitchen. When I see it, I am reminded of Grandma’s kitchen and the way she loved me with good food and a warm smile.

Most of all, the rooster reminds me that Grandma took joy in my joy, and because of it, she risked letting me hold the rooster.

All of these warm remembrances are how I know there is value in the low-shelf things of life.

I wonder if, in reflecting on our lives, the “low-shelf things” are the most important things of all. Things like silly text threads with your best friend, spontaneous dinner parties, a child’s hand holding yours, a fresh basket of your famous bread on the table, prayers whispered throughout the day, the tears you can’t help but cry when you hear that one song.

Our lives are a collection of a million little things all stacked on top of one another, making up one beautiful life.

When I think of Jesus, I see how He valued the low-shelf things and used them to illustrate key messages. He compared the power of faith to a mustard seed, one of the smallest seeds on earth. (Matthew 17:20) He was able to take a boy’s small lunch and make it into a big miracle. (Luke 9:10-17) He saw value in a widow’s two coins. (Mark 12:41-44)

In one lesson, Jesus called attention to an ordinary, almost forgettable bird: the sparrow. Jesus said sparrows aren’t worth much money: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29).

A person is worth far more to God than a whole flock of sparrows. He even counts the hairs on our heads. “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:30-31, NIV)

I guess you could say God values the low-shelf things of life. And if God is paying attention, I want to pay attention too.

It’s so tempting to believe a meaningful life is found in “high-shelf things,” on stages or under spotlights where accolades flow and the world notices.

But meaningful lives are rarely built on stages or under spotlights.

Meaningful lives are built by coming fully awake to our everyday lives.

Yet we have to slow down to see all this goodness right here and now. We have to pay attention. We might have to get low, like a child, to find the most precious things sitting on the lowest shelves of all.

At the end of our lives, when we stand before God, we will know it for certain:

It’s not always the big things that matter most. It’s often all the little things, added together, that give life meaning.

Dear God, thank You for the low-shelf things in my life. Sometimes, I am tempted to chase after shiny things and high-shelf things. Remind me never to dismiss the gift of what is “small.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Pick up a copy of Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book Growing Slow, which helps you find the joy in the slow, low-shelf things of life.


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Zechariah 4:10a, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin …” (NLT)

Small beginnings and low-shelf things have something in common: They are often overlooked and undervalued. Today, take some time to see and name the small beginnings and low-shelf things in your life. Name a few in the comments!

© 2022 by Jennifer Dukes Lee. All rights reserved.

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