Tony Nochim

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Michael Sparks, John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin—can you name the odd man out?

The obvious answer is Michael Sparks, whose name isn’t on the list when you celebrate Independence Day on July 4.

In 2006, Sparks was browsing through a Nashville thrift shop when he found a yellowed, shellacked, rolled-up copy of the Declaration of Independence. He bought it for $2.48.

Sparks later found out that his document was an official copy of the Declaration of Independence, one of 200 commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820.

About a year later, it sold at an auction for $477,650.

Have you ever done something seemingly insignificant that changed your life forever?

This is the way faith often works.

God rarely shows us the $477,650 return until after we pay three bucks on something that seems insignificant, but He’s asking for our simple obedience.

I didn’t realize while on a campus ministry mission trip in Atlanta that I would briefly meet a girl named Chelsey at a homeless outreach event, and we would get married a year and a half later.

I didn’t realize that when my parents got me a yearly subscription to Sports Illustrated as a kid it would be the seed planted for why I enjoy reading and writing.

I didn’t realize going to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting with a couple of high school baseball teammates—only because they had Dunkin’ Donuts that morning—that it would be the entry point to my salvation, and I would walk out compelled to change my lifestyle.

How often, similar to Sparks stumbling upon the Declaration of Independence, have we stumbled upon something significant through a small act of obedience?

I’m sure Peter and company felt the same way. Jesus’ words, “Come, follow me” were simple, straightforward and definitely didn’t come with a whole lot of detail.

Peter wasn’t seeking Jesus because he was preoccupied with catching fish, but he became the rock of the church after he responded to Jesus’ call on his life.

The wealthy Lydia was just attending a women’s prayer meeting out of curiosity, but she went home and her family would be changed for generations to come.

While stuck in prison in Egypt, Joseph remained faithful to God and eventually became second in command to Pharaoh.

Do we honestly think David’s time strumming the harp surrounded by sheep was because he anticipated a seat in the palace?

The woman who poured an alabaster jar of expensive perfume over Jesus’ head couldn’t have imagined her story would still be told today.

These examples reveal that though we may undervalue something in the moment—starting our spiritual journey, befriending someone, an act of kindness for a random person—a small step of obedience can lead to eternal treasures.

As one pastor wrote, “Very few good dreams should go on hold while you improve the shortcomings of your life … if you wait until all your shortcomings are remedied, your dreams will die. All our advances are with a limp. If you wait till you are beyond criticism to pursue your dream, you will never do it. You won’t marry or stay married. You won’t decide to have children or raise them. You won’t take your first job or keep it. You won’t go into missions or stay there. You won’t plant a church or stick with it for 30 years. Few things paralyze good people more than their own imperfections.”

Tony Nochim is a staff writer for The Southeast Outlook.