Last year at this time, I was buying slate-blue house paint, along with brushes, and rollers. I learned how to caulk between siding gaps. Then I set up on the front porch of my mother-in-law’s house and did the first cutting in. Six weeks later, I finished painting the entire house (minus the top portions, which Matt handled on the scary-high ladder).
Every day, I tackled one section at a time.
It was one of the most challenging and exhausting tasks I have ever undertaken. As the weeks went on, it took more prayer and will power to put on those nasty paint clothes and get back at it.
The Lord has been sending me a message from many different directions lately: I can accomplish big work, if I’m willing to do small work day after day.
My son and daughter-in-law bought me a book for Mother’s Day, because they totally get me. It’s called Atomic Habits, by James Clear. His main point is that the big changes we want to accomplish and habits we want to establish don’t happen when we make big goals but rather when we do tiny work in the direction we want to go.
Case in point, we spent almost two hours yesterday with a financial expert. Our financial story is long, but I would tell you that we came upon Dave Ramsey years ago and started following his baby steps. Honestly, I never thought we’d get past goal number one and for sure never get past goal number two and most certainly never, in a million years, achieve goal number three. But we did it. I kept telling the financial man, Mr. Kirk, “By God’s grace, we did it.”
“But we’ll never be able to accomplish financial goal number four,” I said to Mr. Kirk in resignation. Because I had looked at the numbers in the checkbook for years and had thought, Retirement will never be in our future.
But he took in all of our financial information, and do you know what he handed me back? Hope.
When I got in the truck, my mouth was hanging open, and I realized all of those baby steps and daily moving forward toward impossible financial goals had actually landed us where we were hoping to go, albeit in a humble way.
But it has taken a few dozen years. YEARS. Years of daily decisions. Years of squirreling away miniscule amounts of money in the right direction.
But this blog post is about the times we live in, not just about painting a house or how to handle finances. In Romans 12:21, Paul talks to the followers of Christ in Rome, and he gives them this instruction:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NIV)
The evil happening in our world right now is beyond description. We’re seeing immorality, godlessness, violence, lying, manipulation, hatred, and complete selfishness. The evil is bigger than a house that needs a coat of paint, and you might feel that attacking it with your little paint brush is nothing but ridiculous.
But the Lord keeps saying to me that my little bit of good can overcome a whole lot of evil.
When a job seems too big, it’s easy to give up or to allow paralysis to set in. But if we become convinced that the small efforts we make today can, in fact, have great positive impact on our broken world, we can live in hope of making a difference.
So, don’t focus on the great evil that is a boiling black cloud over our nation. Focus on the small good you’re going to do today, in your house, at your job, in your church, in your neighborhood, in your city, in your social media feed, and in your checkbook. Ask God what he wants you to do today, and do it. Stick with it. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. In your persistence to complete small, good work, you can overcome great evil.