Have you heard the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Strangely, this has become a powerful spiritual insight to me over the last year or so. I changed jobs and in the change, took on going back to school for another degree. My nursing degree got me my teaching job, but now I need an education degree to keep it. Last summer I took my first course, I’m required to take at least one per year and have a limited amount of years to complete the whole thing. I submitted my transcript at our school board office and got a call a few hours later. I had taken the wrong class. I had misunderstood the requirements of my contract and after the money and time to complete the course, it didn’t count. Not only did it not count, it meant my job had to be posted before I could return to work. That was a stressful few weeks! Finally, I was informed that no one else had applied for my position and I was eligible for another year’s extension.
I just completed another class, and yes, it’s the right one this time!
The next class starts in nine days. And the next one after that in January.
I’ll be a few years past fifty when this degree is done. And believe me, I wish it was done now. I’ve had people ask me if I regretted becoming a nurse first, if I’d made a mistake by not becoming a teacher earlier in my life. I would’ve said yes and yes on some days. But not these days. Now I say no. No, I do not regret the honor and privilege of becoming a nurse. And I do not regret that I didn’t become a teacher sooner.
Because this is the life before me. And that was the life behind me. And God has yet to lose track of where I am in all of it. I don’t have a problem acknowledging that I’ve misunderstood and mismanaged the best way to do things. I just don’t worry anymore about the accusing voice of “Why didn’t you…..?” It’s not only an irritating voice but it’s a useless way to spend my time.
Instead, I’ve come to fully embrace this moment. And God’s will, in this moment, is for me to be a student again. He has no other plan for these days. Do you know the powerful idea of that? God has NO OTHER PLANS for me right now. This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Is that because I missed the train? Is it because I got the wrong education? No. Or maybe yes. It doesn’t matter because He’s more than able to continually carve a new path for us. He is in this moment in time and I’m utterly bored with the idea of where I might have been if only I’d done something different, better, smarter or braver. He gives us life in manageable increments, the joy and contentment of which are destroyed if we sit around thinking about where we might have been under different circumstances.
His plan for me today is the only thing that truly matters. From His plan for me to awaken all the way to His plan for me to fall asleep; it’s fine and right. Just a moment at a time, that’s all we need to manage of life. Yes, there are moments when I’m wandering off in the wrong direction, but God will always make a way for those seeking Him, to find their way to the life He intends. And that life is always good.
One moment at a time, that’s all you need to figure out. Don’t give yourself a headache (and a heart ache) trying to see the end.
Pick up your fork and start eating that elephant, one bite at a time.
And enjoy every moment.
Update: I recently had the pleasure of connecting with the amazing artist who created this beautiful image. Please visit her site to see more of her work! Melissa Washburn, thank you!
Well hey there! It’s been ages since I’ve posted. It’s not been that long since I’ve written, but I’ve not been in a season of posting for months and months. And it’s ok. And I’m ok. But this morning I’m dropping in to share a thought or two with you.
I started 2016 with a decision to submit to a spiritual make-over of sorts. Except, instead of a list of things to change I really wanted to pursue understanding and peace. As it turns out, this has been a very good time to withdraw into a God-and-me place because the messages from everywhere but heaven are decidedly unpeaceful.
In the simplest of terms, I’ve become more committed to praying and in that, I’ve become better at it. Because prayer, truthfully, is a discipline. Think of the grasping and yelping we do when we are slipping on ice. We’ll grab at any person or thing to break our fall. Compare that to the sweetest and truest relationship in your life. No comparison, right? The grab for help is nothing at all like times spent over coffee sharing everything from heartache to giggles.
This year, I’ve wanted less of grabbing at God and more of friendship with Him. I found that there is no substitute for quieting everything that distracts, including good and productive things, and settling into the habit of feeling for His presence. It’s taken a good bit of just doing it, to be frank. On many days I could have done a hundred things that other people would have considered a better use of my time than to be alone with God. After all, there aren’t that many selfies one can take simply sitting on the back porch looking at the trees and listening from the inside. It’s led me down wonderful paths. This morning, as I considered posting and sharing, I wondered if I really had a message for today. I do, it is this…
God wants to clean out the cobwebs and the noise of condemnation.
I’ve known Jesus for my entire life, and been sure of my salvation for longer than I can remember. I’ve known since before kindergarten that heaven was going to be my eternity. Still, I go through life feeling sorry and wrong about countless things. God doesn’t speak in the voice of condemnation. He speaks in the voice of rebuke, and they are two different things. His voice comes to warn us away from things that will harm us or interfere with His best intention for us. He speaks in words that direct us toward healthy and strong hearts so that our lives can follow in health and strength. He doesn’t use words like “useless.” “Ugly.” “Hopeless.” “Unlovable.” “Unworthy.” Those are words of condemnation.
I’ve learned, with sorrow and shame, that I’ve spoken those very words myself in the name of Jesus, claiming I was inspiring something holy when in fact, I was doing the opposite. That realization took some days of prayer not only for forgiveness, but for a perspective shift to prevent it happening again.
I’m so grateful that the Lord, knowing the truth of who and what I am, started this work in me this year. In the political climate of these days, I would’ve taken the bait of anger, self-righteousness and condemnation left to my own thoughts and ways. I needed to be rescued from myself.
I’m feeling much kinder toward myself today, and this makes it so much more natural to feel kind toward others. In these days of meeting with Jesus and letting Him do all of the talking, I’ve come to know the compassionate and gentle Christ who changes the world one person at a time. What a relief!
My prayer for you is that you will withdraw from every distraction and duty that leaves you seeing an incomplete Jesus. If you’re feeling those words…useless, hopeless…it’s time to live with God in private places so that you can stop grasping for momentary rescue and instead experience the glorious fall into grace and peace.