On Solar Circumvention

March 30, 2022
Tim Lilen

All of us survivors commemorate an annual solar circumvention. We passively glide around our smallish, yet energetic star. We drift through the cosmos at 67,000 miles per hour, and then somebody reminds us that we encircled a raging glob of nuclear reactions, safely. Notably, there is no parade for this feat. It’s usually a greeting card that pokes fun about how many times we’ve done this achievement.

When I turned 33, a friend of mine said, “At 33 years old Jesus saved the world; what have you done?” Thanks, Allen. Compared to that, I may have reshuffled some items on my desk. A rearrangement of some pebbles.

Moses told us that heart of wisdom has learned to number days (Psalm 90). Specifically, the days you have lived and the ones you might—to a cautious, reasonable limit; let’s not get carried away.

Given the ever-pulling demands from varied corners, how much can a person do in a day? A lifetime? Moses’s wisdom feels much like humility, no?

John Thomas (City to City, Redeemer NYC) told me once that, “we overestimate how much we can do in one day, and underestimate how much we can accomplish in a year.” I was feeling frustrated with my tiny steps hitting up against gargantuan projects, goals, ideas. Like a plodding turtle crossing the finish line. No sneaker deals, but steady, productive.

C.S. Lewis tell us “How one spends his life is much like how one spends his days.” That could haunt you if are easily distracted by adorable felines and doggo memes.

Zechariah 4:10 says, “Who despises the day of small things?”

That captures it. We might as well admit it. Everything we do is quite small. But Zech says not to despise it.

Ed Welch is helpful here: “I have often mused, How does anything ever get done? How do I ever get anything done? By taking the next little step in a day of small things, by placing the next stone into place. The Maker of heaven and earth has determined to have us partner with him in his plans, and he is pleased to set a pace for us that seems very human.”  

A small stone (pebble?) set at the pace of humanity…and eternity. I heard someone say that much of middle-aged depression has much to do with reconciling what-you-thought-you-were-going-to-accomplish compared to reality. I’ve done so little, a newly minted 48-year-old says.

Again Welch: “If you are depressed, do not despise small steps. Ease your body out of bed by faith in the God who will use even that to build his house on earth. Eat something, even if you have no appetite, to respond to your Father’s call to a small thing. Feeling ready for another small thing? Try a word wrapped in love, spoken to another person.”

But if you know your Scriptures, small things—little things—empowered by God’s Spirit result in stories that everybody loves to retell and rehear.

I have another friend, Paul Joiner who sent me an email the other day. It was brief. It said: “Going to put a couple more rocks in place today for the Son of Man.”

Me too. Or pebbles, as the case may be.

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