We are overwhelmed. People and tasks clamor for our attention. Go here. Do this. Help with that. The inbox is always full. The text notifications ping one after the other.
Run, run, run. Still the list never shrinks. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
We get trapped in the cycle of the urgent. I see this in my own life particularly in the area of goal-setting. Illness sets limits on the amount and type of exercise I can do each day, but I’m not exempt from those 30 minutes of concentrated activity. I start out fine. I get on the treadmill and take a walk. But by day two, I’m frustrated because I didn’t cover so many miles in so many minutes. I should be at peak performance…right now.
A culture of urgency leaves us without the concept of bite-sized. My big goal might be to walk three or four miles each day, but I have to build up to that. It’s an idea that is all too easy to lose sight of; my track record shows that if I can’t reach the big goal immediately, then I throw in the towel.
Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. – Matthew 4:18-22, NKJV
Jesus doesn’t issue the Great Commission until 24 chapters and three-plus years later. He doesn’t say, “Well, great! You’re following me now. So go tell people about Me and teach them how to be disciples.” No! He spent a lot of time with these guys. He poured into them. He gave them little tasks along the way to prepare them for the big one.
Jesus knew that the disciples were babies, spiritually speaking. He knew that they couldn’t run before they’d been taught how to walk, even how to crawl. And even when they did run, He knew that they’d fall sometimes and have to walk again.
He knows that about us, too. Yes, the Lord has things He wants us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We are wrong when we see Him through the lens of urgency, however. Whatever we are called to do with our lives, whatever form of loving service He wants us to pursue, He knows that we need to take baby steps. We need the little tasks and the small goals.
I am prone to discouragement in the area of ministry that God has placed me in, just as the lack of miles on the treadmill produces frustration. I want to do the big thing now. The little things don’t seem very important.
Yet all those small things, even the seemingly-insignificant ones, will one day add up. The little goals are the essence of the big goal. Walking is the foundation of running.
So be encouraged! There are tasks that you can do today, people that you can love today. God sees all that we do for Him. He smells that meal you took to a neighbor. He read the blog post nobody else did. He noticed when you go up a little earlier to pray and read Scripture. All these steps of obedience are special to Him. They reveal your heart.
Let’s seek the Lord. Let’s ask Him to break down the big goals for us – and to grant us the discipline to take those baby steps.