- Psalm 104
- Psalm 107
- Psalm 111-113
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.” –Psalm 104:33, ESV
The road we travel is long. There is no two ways about it. It took us time to get where we are, and it will take us time to get to where we want to go. Though the instant solution would be great, Romans highlights that there is a process in the journey.
“…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5, ESV
Though the passage in Romans specifically addresses suffering, the principles remain for creating and enduring life. When I was little, I would drag the kitchen chair across the room so that I could stand on it and be tall enough to use the mixer to make cookies. The cookies I made were simple. But those years of being small and doing those things created a foundation from which decades later, I can bake all sorts of complicated desserts without having to use the chair.
There are two lessons in my baking experience. One lesson is that it takes time to build the competence and perspective needed to do bigger and more complicated things. Where once I stuck very closely to the recipes, I can now look at a recipe and change it to make it better before I even start. I understand ingredients and science in a more complex way that I know what I can tweak and what needs to remain the same. I can look at one person’s recipe and completely change it to make it what I need it to be. Yet still, there is room to grow. I don’t yet know the foundational basics to an extent to create a recipe completely from nothing. I can do it from another recipe, but I can’t just do that on my own. So though much has been learned, there is still more to learn. Imagine if, at the age of 5, I threw my hands in the air and gave up because I was too short and couldn’t create a pas de choux recipe from scratch. I would have missed out on years of stress-relieving baking and providing tasty treats for friends and families because I took a short-term look at a long-term process.
The second lesson is this: just because the cookies I originally made were simple, it didn’t make them any less cookies. They were still devoured by the family. They were still welcomed at bake sales and youth group events. Just because I started simply doesn’t mean what I could contribute at that time was not valuable. You may be at the beginning of a process. Do not discount what you contribute, even as you are learning. Think of your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant. Chances are solid it was not created by an Iron Chef, but that doesn’t make it any less tasty, any less satisfying for you. Apply the same consideration to yourself. Just because you are not (yet) the best in the world at something doesn’t mean you cannot contribute.
These lessons are true in faith as well. One of the most freeing moments in my faith was a number of years ago. Sitting in a Sunday School class of mixed generations, I listened as the women I considered the church matriarch (though she would have NEVER said that same thing about herself) confessed something that broke chains of frustration for me. This woman, who, if she told you she was praying for you, you knew that was the reason you survived as certain phase in life, this godly, humble, quiet woman confessed that she still didn’t understand God. Into her 80s at the time, my jaw dropped. If this woman was still wrestling with spiritual truths into her 80s, I needn’t be so hard on myself that I didn’t have it figured out in my late 20s. Even now, that sounds absurd to have believed; but that is the perspective of the long-term approach. I can look back now and see my expectations were unrealistic and binding. Taking faith one day at a time, learning more one day at a time, was the path to eventually being like that matriarch in her 80s. I just had to relax and look ahead.
Maybe you are trying to do too much in too short of time. Or maybe you are regretting years where you weren’t moving forward, struggling to move forward out of grief for the years lost. The principles hold true: take it one day at a time. Be further along today than you were yesterday. Trying to make up for lost time will add frustration, not relieve it. Simply take today, and know that you have years to move forward.