The Tedium We Have to Do

So I’m sitting here stuffing an abandoned Mother&Son holiday project. The one I was sewing and he was stuffing, until he realised how tedious the stuffing process is.

It’s 34 degrees and I’m breaking out into a sweat just trying to push stuff into the guts of a particularly ‘home-made’ looking cat. It’s strange how, in the most mundane, when things are at their least attractive and most ordinary that we can realise truth.

Because, doing the battle, being glorious and victorious and wonderful… that’s the few moments that follow the hundreds of moments of doing the small, boring, tedious things that make us ready for the big moments.

cat

David – king, composer, leader of armies… he did a lot of time out in a paddock with sheep who, in my limited experience, don’t give a rats about who you are. They will still be stubborn, skittish and downright stupid. He wasn’t born into favour, he wasn’t an overnight success. There was a lot of ‘being faithful in the small‘ before there was any ‘this is your life’ glamour.

Ruth, in the line of Jesus, married to the most eligible of bachelors, she did a whole lot of journey, grieving, choosing her mother-in-law over what was familiar, cultural alienation, judgement, disapproval… all of that. All of that invitation to do the boring, hard, one shuffle at a time, sleep in a field, follow around other people picking up left-overs and act grateful – ness.

Because it’s what we feed ourselves with before the red-carpet event that determines how we will look in our dress in the spotlight when our moment finally comes.

If we want to be a writer – there is much writing unseen, much editing, much drafting and re-drafting and receiving of feedback before we are even ready for the publisher to reject it. The book we read, all shiny on the bookshop shelf, is a result of hundreds of unseen, boring to the point of collapse, missing out, track-pant wearing (ugh…must there be trackies??)…The writer does the tedious work.

The artist does the tedious work

The chef does the tedious work (and then works the most anti-social hours ever, and in the heat and noise and all the cleaning up – why people why?? – chefs are amazing, good food yes please)

So if I say that my passion is the One. If I think that I want to make a life of speaking, or writing, or teaching others then I need to do the tedious work of stuffing in all that I need. I need to feed my body – the whole thing –  to make it firm, to make it ready for the journey, to make sure that when that door does open I am not found naked and unready.

Let’s say that I meet a publisher who’s prepared to look at my manuscripts (which is like gold in the field of writing)… won’t it be to my shame if I have spent years saying how I want to be a writer and when the opportunity comes I don’t have anything to show them. Or what I have to show them is scrappy hurriedly done work, without the drafting, redrafting, refining…. I will miss out.

So as I sit here – stuffing a strange-looking cat toy, sweating and bored I am reminded that the work of the brilliant also includes boring behind the scenes work. It includes heart breaks, disappointments, getting back ups, trying agains, faithfully plugging away when no-one sees except the sheep and the other field workers – both of whom probably regard you as a nuisance.

character

Don’t let’s fool ourselves into believing the lie of the overnight success.

Don’t let’s excuse ourselves from the work that is before us.

Don’t let’s believe that anyone has it all easy and doesn’t have to discipline themselves for the prize they want.

In His kingdom being trustworthy with the small unseen things is seen as an insight into our character and an indication of how we will cope on the big screen. Little things reveal big things about us.

Holy Spirit would you walk with us in the tedious places where we have to choose the hard over the path of least resistance? Would you give us vision and passion that carries us through the difficult places? Would you walk with us Jesus and would we follow your example of waiting, listening, praying, and learning in order to be bearers of much fruit? Father, when we are stuck out in the fields and we are tempted to believe that it doesn’t matter and no-one will ever notice, would you remind us in love and in challenge that you notice, and that we matter to you no matter how hidden we feel?

Reminding myself today to be faithful in the small, the tedious and the necessary in order to be ready for the exceptional, the exciting and the beautiful.

Galatians 6v9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Roots that Break Rocks

I was biking the other day over a paved cycle path. Along the edge of a road lined with beautiful tall trees.

The cycle path had lines like veins that ran across it in places. Gently nudging the paved concrete up.

Small ripples that might not be felt unless I looked down at them.

Little veins here and there across an otherwise smooth pathway.

And I was reminded that the kind of roots a tree develops over years of reaching up and up are the kind of roots that will not be killed by rock being laid on top of them.

Beautiful Stock photo from here

They are the kind of roots that cannot be tamed by the power of people at work.

Maybe they don’t appear obvious at first, maybe we never even think of them,

When we gaze upwards at the beauty of the tree, or seek solace in it’s shade or enjoy the fruit that grows on it we give little account to the power of what is working to keep that tree growing. The unseen depth to which the roots grow, the ways in which those roots have stretched out and taken ground in order for that tree to go upwards.

In God’s kingdom I don’t think we see overnight successes – we see people flawed, rejected, hopeful, triumphant and totally broken – who have had opportunities to develop strong root systems in undesirable circumstances. Because I think that God is not so interested in the size of the tree or even how wonderful its fruit as much as he is interested in the depth of the roots.

Because it’s easy to be impressed by size but it’s harder to measure the depths of the roots.

But when the gaze has been ever upward toward the light and the soil has been good soil then a tree develops roots that can break through rock.

And I suspect mostly it doesn’t look like some mighty warrior breaking free the shackles and charging out it looks like faithful commitment to keep growing down even when the rock on top is heavy and the light is hard to see. It’s the growth that happens day by day by day not the sudden burst.

Maybe you are surrounded by tall trees and impressive people and you are so focussed on where you aren’t that you cannot see that the roots you have nurtured that no one has noticed are slowly, gently but surely causing ripples in the rocks and pathways that are trying to limit you.

Don’t focus so much on the fruit and the reach of your branches that you forget to remember the anchor that holds you steady and nourishes you. Because downwards not upwards is the call of any tree who wants to remain unshaken in difficulty.

May we all grow down in order to grow up and nurture those around us