A Challenge for Today

Listen well.

Respond well. dandelion

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:19-27)

What do you need to stop today?

What do you need to start or continue today?

Being Resolute in Finishing What I Start

Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower. If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don’t, you might lay the foundation, but you would not be able to finish. Then all who would see it would make fun of you, saying, “This person began to build but was not able to finish.” If a king is going to fight another king, first he will sit down and plan. He will decide if he and his ten thousand soldiers can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. If he can’t, then while the other king is still far away, he will send some people to speak to him and ask for peace. In the same way, you must give up everything you have to be my follower. (Luke 14:17-33)

What are you most likely to procrastinate?

How do you typically approach projects in terms of deadlines, starting, and finishing?

If you could change one thing about your habits of perseverance, what would it be?

There will always be at least one more thing to do. You cannot cross every single thing off your to-do list. New tasks are added as you’re accomplishing another. However, that’s no reason to become paralyzed. Progress is important. It’s not the same as busyness. One is purposeful and involves growth. The other is typically a time and energy waster. Not everything is intended to be finished in the way you believe it should be finished. When finishing becomes the focus, you’ll miss lessons along the journey. Let’s not use that as an excuse to not strive to finish what we start. We often don’t know where the finish line is until we begin. We start a project and think the finish line is full completion to our satisfaction. What if we’re supposed to complete something to a halfway point, then share it with someone who takes over the next part of the process? What if we’re supposed to learn something in the distractions we experience? Let’s not make excuses for not finishing, but let’s not get too task-driven either. Let God grow you. He already started. Join him as he finishes.

Take a “next step” today. Step toward the finish of something. God provides the energy. You provide the obedience.

If You Build It, It Will Grow

It began as a small project. Tim would build a simple sandbox for our oldest daughter’s first birthday. It was a basic square sandbox with seats on the corners. He did a great job. The finished product held sand and contained hours of fun.

Then we decided we wanted a swingset and clubhouse. It didn’t need to be fancy, but the logical thing to do was build it around the existing base of the sandbox. Tim had to make a few adjustments to the clubhouse plans to allow for the existing dimensions of the sandbox, but he successfully added a clubhouse, slide, ladders, climbing rope and ladder, and an extension on which we could place a light swing.

It wasn’t long before our family grew and the single baby swing wasn’t enough. In fact, our house wasn’t enough either. It was time to move, and the clubhouse was coming with us. Tim partially deconstructed it – enough to transport across town – and reconstructed it, adding some renovations in the process. He replaced the top beam with a longer and stronger piece of wood and built a new, large A-frame support leg. Now we could have more than one daughter swinging into the sky at a time.

The playgym brought hours of enjoyment to our family. The girls built sandcakes and sandcastles and slid down the slide through sunshine, sprinklers, leaves and snow. They soared high on the swings and hosted many picnics and read for hours in the roofed clubhouse. They restained it by themselves one year while Tim and I were staining the fence, and they helped Tim make minor mendings as the weather took its toll.

Years earlier, when I looked out the window at Tim standing between a truck full of lumber and a simply sandbox, I wasn’t sure what the end result would be. Sometimes we just have to get started and build something. As we make adjustments and see the possibilities, the end result takes shape in our minds. But it’s still just the beginning: the resulting memories cannot be foreseen or planned.

What are you building today?

Where and in whom are you investing?

What are your expectations?

Dare to dream. God’s plans likely differ from yours. His blueprints, journals, and photo albums are better.

Several years ago, we talked to the girls about giving the playgym away. It was still in good shape, so it made sense for someone else to benefit from it. They agreed. One of my best friend’s husband helped Tim take it apart again. It’s been reassembled in their backyard. They’ve renovated it yet again, and now their son can make his own memories on it. The building continues.

Solomon began building. (2 Chronicles 3:2)

(No) Stone Unturned

Masada archeologist Yigael Yadin left parts of Masada and the Roman camps surrounding it unexplored.

He uncovered much of Herod’s palace, the Roman ramp, the synagogue, scroll fragments, skeletal remains and much more.

Imagine: Standing among treasures, surrounded by opportunities to explore and learn. Faced with a task, an adventure. Having the expertise to work on something that makes a difference.

Could you leave the job undone? Do you leave the job undone?

  • When you’re passionate about a project, how willing are you to delegate?
  • Do you ever do for others when you know it might be better to let them do for themselves?
  • How often do you seek others who know more than you and ask them for advice and assistance?

How do you measure a job or task is “done”? Is it when there is absolutely nothing left that can be done, or is it when you personally can do no more – or you know you’re not supposed to do more?

Yadin didn’t quit because he got tired of the project or could no longer work on it. He deliberately left some of the site covered…because he assumed there would be later be archaeological developments beyond what he knew and that by waiting, archaeologists who followed him would learn much more by sifting the same areas.

Look at this photo of Herod’s store rooms.

Most has obviously been excavated, but take a look at the left side of the photo at the uncleared area.

Yadin – even though he wasn’t sure of the specific benefits – trusted that someone else could do something that he couldn’t.

Perhaps we sometimes feel lazy if we don’t finish something. Or we think we have a responsibility to finish what we start. Or we think if we commit to something, we can’t possibly hand it to someone else. Perhaps someone else won’t care as much about it as we do. Or they don’t have the experience we do. Whether it’s about us or them, we won’t put down the trowel and tweezers. We exhaust ourselves until our fingers bleed and our eyes water. We’re so tired that we don’t do a thorough job. Sometimes, someone is waiting in the wings…but she gets tired of waiting and moves on to something else. Or, she lets you keep working because it’s easier.

Sometimes you’re called to finish a job…but sometimes you’re called to set it aside. You fit together with others. It’s okay to pick up someone else’s tools and finish the job and put down your tools and invite someone else to pick them up. Sometimes you’ll work for a brief time between the start and the finish. Your contribution might seem insignificant – but it’s part of the big picture.

Be obedient. Take it from a (recovering) control freak. You don’t have to do it all. The world won’t fall apart without you. And yet you do have an important role. The key to knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no” is discernment. Be obedient. Trust God. He knows what he’s doing and how you best fit!

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly. Romans 12:3-6