My two-year-old daughter, Sylvie, refuses to say the number one. She first learned to count during our games of hide-and-seek by covering her eyes and repeating the number three: “fwee, fwee, FWEE.”
Then at Christmas, my sister Amanda taught her to say the number two. There was some serious celebrating! But Sylvie’s discerning sensibilities stopped her from learning the first number of value in counting. (At least she learned how to say two just in time for her second birthday!)
Honestly, I completely understand. When it comes to staring down a new goal and beginning something challenging, I’d like to skip right ahead to step number two. Patience is hard. In the thick of obstacles and opposition, it’s human nature to want to give up.
How God Sees Your Beginning
I started this blog about a year ago, and it was a small beginning. Very small. I had no goals or ambitions, I wrote whenever, and on a good day, I had about 10 visitors. I was fine with that, at first. After three months, I knew I wanted to take my blogging up a notch and become more intentional about what I was doing. I wanted to reach more people, make more friends, write more inspirational posts, and see where God would take it. It was an exciting time at first, but then things got a bit stagnant. I wasn’t seeing growth the way I’d hoped. Following every victory, there was a crash of defeat. I started to get frustrated, and if God would have offered to allow me to skip ahead in this journey, I would have taken Him up on it in a heartbeat.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…
This passage above is about rebuilding the temple, an incredible undertaking that was led by Zerubbabel in 520 BC. After the foundation was completed, the Samaritans discouraged and attacked the builders any way they legally could. Zerubbabel put it all on hold.
This second temple was so important to God, that he sent two prophets bearing angelic messages to Zerubbabel. And God spoke some awesome, encouraging messages to him.
Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”
I love that Zerubbabel needed encouragement after he started the work. He had laid the temple foundation, a huge accomplishment, before Samaritans impeded the work. That’s when things got beyond difficult. That’s when Zerubbabel left the project altogether.
None of us claim to have something so important as rebuilding the temple in front of us, but these words still apply to each of us. They are in the Bible for your encouragement, so let it soak in. If God is the foundation of your plans or goals, nothing can truly stand in your way. Press on, and leave it to Him. It won’t be by force or by your own strength, but by His spirit.
I might still be in that slow-moving first phase of blogging, but I’ve learned to be patient with it and put it in God’s hands. It’s a lot more fun that way! I figure this humble online space will reach whomever God has in mind, and that’s all I want, too.
God knows that the smallest first steps we take can look ridiculous in comparison to where we’d like to be. He knows that the excitement of your beginning can wear off quickly and turn to discouragement.
This time of year, a lot of us are doing something new or creating goals for 2018. I just have a simple message of encouragement for you:
Don’t give up.
The journey God has you on won’t be trouble-free. You’ll make mistakes and be disappointed at times. But press on, and you’ll get there.
I know that Sylvie is going to learn to say the number one eventually. That’s why I kind of delight in the way she counts right now. She’s only this little once, and I’ll always be able to embarrass her with this story when she’s older. It’s just plain adorable, and I’m proud that she even comes close to understanding how to count at 24-months-old.
Well, that’s how God sees you, too. You’re His child, and He loves to see your work begin. He doesn’t think you’re a failure, and He’s not disappointed. He delights in you and rejoices in seeing you start something new.
Practical Ways to Enjoy Your Small Beginning
- Read God’s word and pray on a regular basis. Keep returning to the Bible for inspiration and encouragement. Let God speak to you through his word, and spend time with Him. There is so much value in seeking Him through prayer and scripture. Drink up His words like water.
- Find your cheering squad. It doesn’t have to be a big group, but one or two people who believe in you and support your efforts can make all the difference. Meet with this person (or people) and ask if she will lend an ear and help you stay positive along the way.
- Learn from a mentor. Learning from someone who is at the place you’d like to be will have a huge impact on your ability to follow through. If you can seek out a person with that experience, who also understands who you are, it will be incredibly helpful and encouraging.
- Don’t compare. Remember not to look to others who are on your journey and wonder why you aren’t there yet. I love the quote I shared above: Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
- Focus on the good. I think it can really help to take note of what you’re gaining out of the process, even in the beginning. Small wins should be celebrated and enjoyed. (Seriously, you’d have thought a miracle was performed the first time Sylvie said “two.”)
I wish you all the best in the journey you’re on, and I hope you love where you’re at.
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