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These Small Beginnings

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Last week, I was working on a big project, and my procrastination level reached heretofore unimagined heights. I literally lay on the floor, staring at the ceiling, after each tiny step. Got another snack. Took another bathroom break. Another coffee. Did laundry. Dishes. EVERYTHING seemed easier than working on my project. Even things I really dislike doing. It seemed like I would never reach the end, and even if I did, would the end be worth it? Was it going to be good? Did it matter even if it was?

In addition to writing, I also create detailed collage art that never looks great until it’s basically complete. I can never tell if my writing or my art will be good until it’s done after hours and hours of tiny steps – one painstakingly ordered word after another, one tiny piece of paper applied with tweezers, then another and another and another.

Today, the Lord brought to mind Zechariah 4:10: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

So, I started looking into what was actually happening in this chapter. Zerubbabel was the civic leader the Lord had tasked with the completion of the temple rebuild. The work had lulled, and I think we can gather from the context that Zerubbabel was pretty bummed about the monumental task.

“The Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Whew…before there is even anything to show for our work, God rejoices in it. Even when I’m just gathering the tools for the task he’s appointed to me, he is already rejoicing in my action. When you read the rest, it gets even better.

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’

Here I am trying to eke out words and beauty by my willpower and my knowledge, but that’s not how my mountain becomes a plain. Zerubbabel’s mountain was a pile of stones that needed to be turned into a temple. Mine is a pile of words that needs to be turned into a book, a pile of paper that needs to be turned into a picture. And it’s worth doing because it is TOO BIG for me and my strength and my will. But it’s not too big for him.

And when I finish, I can shout, “Grace! This was all a work of grace!”

Instead of pressuring my day-to-day with the overwhelming idea of the finished product, I should not despise these small beginnings – the few words, the few pieces of paper adding to the picture. My job is to take up the small task each day. The book, the art, the temple is the Lord’s.

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