I think Mary and Joseph were pretty ordinary people. Or at least they looked like it from the outside. But God used them in an extraordinary way. Why?
For starters, God chose them. And we can never guess whom He is going to choose. But I also imagine that both Mary and Joseph had practiced following God in the small things their whole lives. So when their big call came, they were ready to say yes and follow. Obeying God was already a normal part of their lives.
Or consider Noah. I wonder if God asked him to build the ark because Noah had already lived a long life of faithfulness in the small things. He did not simply go his own way and then suddenly receive this huge, world-changing call. Noah was ready to hear and respond when God called him to something drastic because he was used to hearing and responding in small steps of faithfulness.
Jesus teaches that trustworthiness in small things prepares one to be trusted with larger responsibility. He gives examples of trustworthiness with small amounts of money:
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." –Matthew 25:21 (from the Parable of Talents)
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." –Luke 16:10 (from the Parable of the Shrewd Manager)
Sonlight seeks to inspire students to follow God in the small things so that they are ready when God asks of them the big things. That's why we read so many biographies about ordinary heroes such as Gladys Aylward, Mary Slessor and William Carey.
The Hiding Place is one of my favorite examples of this. Corrie ten Boom was just an ordinary Dutch woman following Christ. When the story opens, readers see her make daily choices to follow and obey when the stakes aren't high. So when the unthinkable happens (when the Nazis invade) and the stakes are very high, Corrie is ready. She continues to follow God step by step. And when you look at her story as a whole, she is clearly a hero who helped transform her world.
May we follow God in the small things each day. And may we and our children be ready to follow when God asks of us something big!