I was reading the bible recently. Actually, it was this morning. By the time I finish writing this blog it could be last week. Or the week before that. In any case, in the course of my little reading fest a little phrase jumped off the page and demanded my attention. The Israelites were about to entire the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. But there were still nations of bad people in the land who were so wicked that they would burn their children to death as sacrifices to their false gods.
Co-existence with such people was not an option. They had to go. The Lord promised He would drive them out and here’s where the phrase came flying off the page directly into my heart (or at least my mind). He promised to drive them out “little by little.” Obviously, the Israelites had a part to play in this driving out process. And they would do their job “little by little.”
They shouldn’t, or couldn’t, drive out nations of big, strong, nasty men all at once. They had to do it bit by bit, day by day, hour by hour. And so I thought, ‘Isn’t that the best formula for approaching life, especially when it comes to tackling the all-consuming, ever expanding, to-do list.’ We can’t grapple everything at once. Some things must wait. There are only 24 hours in each day and 7 days in each week.
For instance, our house is a bit of a mess. Desperate for decluttering. In need of a major dust mite eradification initiative. It’s a big job. The thought of doing it all at once is overwhelming to me. It makes me feel like I’m teetering on the brink of a major nervous breakdown. But thanks to the leaping phrase from my bible reading, I’ve discovered a better strategy. I don’t need to, or rather can’t, do it all at once. But just maybe I can tackle it gradually. Room by room. Here a little, there a little. Inch by inch it ought to be a cinch.
Now that I think about it, life is full of unfinished tasks, especially if you’re in ministry. There are so many things that never get done. You can work on them but you can never really complete them. Consider preaching. You spend hours upon hours studying, writing and praying for Sunday’s message. Sunday comes, the message is delivered, you feel like you’ve been run over by a transport truck or a freight train, then you get up Monday morning and realize another Sunday is just around the corner, so you must start the entire process all over again.
Apparently, preaching is a task I can never remove from my to do list until Jesus returns, or until I draw my last breath upon the earth. Or until I retire, at which time I expect to be so tired and worn out that I cannot possibly enjoy life, even just a little bit. But I could be wrong. God could restore my fledgling frame. He could renew my strength. He could actually cause me to mount up with wings like an eagle and soar, which is slightly problematic for me given my fear of flying. And that’s one reason why I’m not overly excited about the Rapture inasmuch as this event involves “being caught up to meet the Lord in the air.”
I’ve been caught up from earth to sky in an airplane on a few occasions and I really don’t like the feeling. Perhaps the rapture is a different feeling entirely, at least this is my hope.
Anyway, I think I hear my to-do list calling. Time to tackle some tasks while failing to finish them. I will finish them someday, but likely not today. Is my house cleaned up yet? No, but I’m working on it. Is my message ready for Sunday? No, but I’m working on it. Lot’s of unfinished tasks. But I’m working on them. And maybe that’s what really matters.