11 But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, "I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?" He turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, "Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, "Wash, and be clean'?" (II Kings 5:11-13)
"I want to come out of this quarantine better than I went into it."
This has been a repeated refrain running through my mind. And lately, it has caused a bit of stress. I often feel like there still isn’t as much time as I thought I’d have. My life is actually busier now than before. There’s remote learning to supervise and just plain supervision all the hours of all the days. There is no babysitter watch them. There is no school or activity for me to drop them off. Since everyone is home all the time, the housework has increased. There are 3 meals and snacks to figure out instead of just breakfast and dinner.
My life is busier, yet slower. I am able to do things at a more sane pace. I have greater flexibility in planning our days because my former start times are no longer in effect. I have been getting at least eight hours of sleep on a regular basis. This is one of the many things I want to keep in place on the other side.
Consequently, I have been trying to figure out a pace of life for now…and the next. I do not want to go back completely to the way things were. There are changes I want to make. Things that I have been avoiding, ignoring, or delaying are now confronting me. No surprise that I have started to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the magnitude of all the things I’ve been wanting to get in order. Then, I remembered 5 words: small steps bring big results. Put another way, big plans (or problems) do not always require big steps, big blocks of time, or big money.
In all of our lives, there are things we want to change. If you are like me, you may also be feeling the press not to “waste” this time. You, too, may be revisiting that list of things, whether mental or written down, in which you chronicled a “to do” list for this time in quarantine. The list, which should be helpful, can leave us feeling powerless to accomplish what we have aspired to do or complete because we figure big solutions, big actions, and big accomplishments require big changes. I think the feelings of being overwhelmed come because we have done the math, added things up, and concluded that:
· Big problems require big solutions.
· Big financial needs require big job with a big paycheck or a big windfall or a big (i.e. mega million) jackpot.
· Big success requires a big opportunity
· Big respect requires big achievement
· Big bondage requires a big breakthrough
· Big pain requires big relief
That’s why we wait for the “big” to come. We wait for the thing that will remedy the situation or complete the project overnight rather than over time. Time is ticking and things are left undone because we are waiting for a big word, big assignment, big sign or wonder, big solution, big answer, big opportunity, big pay-out, or a big amount of time. Meanwhile, we are overlooking the small things that can bring us big results because we have miscalculated the equations of our lives.
We are like Naaman. Naaman hears about the prophet Elisha and his power of God that works through to perform miracles including curing incurable diseases. Therefore, he travels to Samaria, northern Israel to see him. He expects Elisha to do a big something to cure his big disease. Instead, Elisha tells him to wash in the Jordan river 7 times. Naaman is deeply offended to outright infuriated. He figures the prophet could at least make a personal appearance to deal with him directly or at least, wave a hand over him. After all, he’s a big man with a big problem. It is only natural that he thinks he needs another big man to show up with some big power and do a big thing so he can get his big result. However, when Elisha does not oblige his need for “big-ness,” Naaman starts to leave the country WITHOUT his healing. Naaman would rather keep his big thing instead of doing a small thing to solve it.
Are you doing a Naaman? Have you become so overwhelmed by the “bigness” of whatever is facing that you are refusing or overlooking some small things you can do right now-some small things that will lead you to what you want?
In the story, Naaman was going to leave with an incurable disease when the cure was in sight and available. He was going to leave because he was going to have to do a small thing (wash in the Jordan) repeatedly (7 times). I think that he was going to leave because he couldn’t see how this small thing could manifest into the big result that he was thinking. So, before we do a Naaman and walk away from some thing we can actually have and achieve, allow me to suggest 3 things to help us tackle our "big" thing(s).
1. Re-Do the Math
Most big stuff is an accumulation of small stuff that snowballed. For example our consumer debt didn’t come from one big purchase but several small ones that added up. We didn’t buy a yacht, just a bunch of small stuff year after year that we didn’t pay off. Our relationship didn’t get into trouble overnight. It was a bunch of small stuff i.e. words, attitudes, silences, and misunderstandings that added up over time. We didn’t get fat overnight. It was those extra snacks, those extra calories, those second and third helpings over a period of time. We didn’t get bound over night. We just kept going back for more after we tried it and added a little more each time and made the frequency between the times we did it shorter. We didn’t get behind overnight. We just procrastinated, avoided, or pushed back the deadline or completion date until it all piled up. The house didn’t get so unorganized overnight. It was the individual items we kept throwing into the closet and not throwing out the stuff we no longer needed.
It was the little foxes not a swarm of locusts that destroyed our vines.However, the good news is that if small things have the power to destroy, then small things have the power to make whole.
2. Redefine Your Definition of Small
No longer define “small” as insignificant, inconsequential, inadequate, unimportant, or negligible. Instead, define “small” as doable. “Small” is little enough for us to handle. “Small” is what we are able to accomplish.
We can do the small things. Yet, we often leave the small things undone waiting to do a big thing that is too large for us to handle. Therefore, it is important for us to understand the power of the small thing and it is this: We can do it. The small thing is possible, probable, accomplishable, achievable, completable, and conquerable. The small thing is NOT impossible, it’s usually just inconvenient. It is imperative that we learn the difference.
Impossible is what we give to God. Inconvenient are the small things we have to do for ourselves.
The sad fact is that some of us will miss out on the reset we desire because the small things that bring it are too inconvenient. That’s why the servant asks Naaman, “If the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done? How much more, when all he said to you was ‘Wash and be clean’?”
Big things can be accomplished by doing the same thing Naaman did. Naaman did a small thing repeatedly. That is the key. Just because it is big does not mean it has to be done in big pieces. Figure out the small steps. Then, do it. A little at a time. Bit by bit. And you will be amazed at what you can do!