Have you ever had a plan? Something you wanted so badly for your life? But it didn’t happen in your timing and under your conditions and as you so clearly arranged for it to fall into place? And then you ended up frustrated and ill and feeling like you would never attain that thing or place in life you long for? I have. And it’s a little like stabbing at tomatoes.
Not too long ago, I fixed a green salad for lunch. A little romaine, some cut-up baby carrots, a handful of croutons, a generous helping of Ranch dressing, and of course, some perfectly plump cherry tomatoes to top it off. I was in a hurry that day and decided to dig in so I could finish the salad and get on to the next thing. I quickly stabbed at the salad, trying to get one of those pretty tomatoes on my fork for that perfect bite, but that slippery little sucker shot to the left of the bowl. I stabbed again, and it shot to the right. I stabbed again, and it shot forward! I was feeling a little ridiculous at this point and praying no one was watching(ha!). At this rate, it would take me 30 minutes to finish eating! But then I slowed down, carefully placed the prongs, and was finally able to get that silly tomato to stay put on my fork. I was able to eat each of them, but slowly, one by one. And the Lord showed me that’s a little like life, y’all.
In Zechariah 4, an angel of the Lord is talking with him about plans to rebuild the temple. In verse 6, the Lord gives this message, “It is not by force or by strength, but by my Spirit…” Wow.
Not force. Not strength. By My Spirit.
Oh, y’all. So often we get up in the morning, force ourselves to muster up all of the strength we can in our own flesh, and attempt to go forward with the day. We speak harshly, not in love. We try to move quickly from one task to the next, as we wonder why it doesn’t feel like we’re getting anything meaningful accomplished. We work and push and think and control and direct…and don’t get where we are going.
Because when we have a vision, a goal for our lives, if it is not led by the Lord’s Spirit, it isn’t led at all. No amount of human effort or thought will move us closer to the ending we desire.
Our longings may be big ones. They may be small. but no matter the size, they all have a starting point. In verse 10, the Lord goes on to say, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”
I think so often, we have lofty goals, and in this world of growing instant gratification, we expect to achieve things right away. Want to play a song? Just say, “Alexa-play praise and worship music.” And whadoyaknow? There’s praise and worship music. Forget having to find your tape player, find your tape, fast forward then rewind then fast forward then rewind then fast forward then rewind to find the right song (anyone else been there?).
But y’all, the Lord tells us right here that the Lord rejoices in each tiny step. Each small beginning that is leading down the path He has for us should be celebrated. Isn’t that comforting to remember that though we want to finish the whole “salad” right away, the Lord is wanting us to slow down and just enjoy each perfect little tomato? To take our time, enjoying one bite at a time, instead of chasing tomatoes all over the bowl and eating nothing?
Not force. Not strength. But by His Spirit, y’all. Each small step at a time.