Little by Little

[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]H[/mk_dropcaps]ave you ever been in a situation where you felt in over your head? That feeling is one that is all too familiar for me. It has come in situations like paying off credit card debt, struggling with paying bills especially in my early to mid 20’s, stretching to grow enough for my Advocare business, how to heal from heartbreak, wondering how to help my parents when my Dad was still alive, and to facing depression (to name a few of the bigger ones). Basically these are all situations where I could not see myself in the moment moving past them or figuring them out.  By the grace of God I have.  Today my situation and my character are much different than when I went through those things. As I am dreaming and envisioning what is to come in the next year I cannot help but reflect on how far God has taken me, especially in the last 6 years. In doing so a principle that is a common thread through all these situations rose to the surface. It is one that begs for our attention as we can so easily get excited and seduced by the “thrill” of the chase of our vision.  It is the principle of “little by little.”  Now I will warn you this is one of those truths that is a bit like sand paper.  It does not feel all that good when you apply it but it helps to smooth out your life.

The principle is simple: Lasting victory and success are best built little by little.

In other words there are no short cuts, but the slow and steady that wins the race. In Exodus 23:30 it says:

[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"] Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.[/mk_blockquote]

In this God was speaking to the Israelites in preparation of what it would take to lay hold of their promised land.  He was trying to help them set their expectations for the process.  He made it explicitly clear what His role would be and what was their responsibility. I believe based off the fact that the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years that they did not get nor yield to this truth. It sure does not sound like a glamorous or exciting way to gain territory. God was not going to swoop in and kill all opponents in one foul swoop.  Not because he is unable, but because it would not have been to their benefit.  I don’t want you to miss what the middle part of that verse says: until you have increased.  God will not give us our victories until we have grown in proportion to them to be able to sustain them.  Our authority, trust and love of Him must be deep enough that no matter the scale of success we experience we keep God as our Lord. He does not want to give us a blessing to just take it away.  He is a good father, desiring to give us good gifts, but when we can steward them wisely.  Think of it like this, what if a dad decided to give a 5 year old a Maserati.  The child would not be a good steward of it at all. The maturity and capacity is not on the level with caring for such a valuable gift. I believe that  is what God was doing here with the Israelites, slowly bringing the victory at the pace they are growing in maturity.

The thing that held the Israelites back the most was their unwillingness to trust God’s process.  Instead they resisted and tried to avoid the friction and frustration that the sandpaper of the “little by little” creates.

A more relatable example is paying off credit card debt. How often do you just think “If only I could miraculously get a large sum of money and start fresh things will all be better.?” I thought just that in 2009 when I had $12,000 of credit card debt.  I had just rededicated my life to Christ and prayed one of those audacious prayers as I just started tithing, I asked the Lord “If this tithing thing really is of you, bless me in such a way that you cancel this debt.”  About 3 weeks later, the day after my birthday, I received an unexpected inheritance check of $13,000.  That was an answered prayer!  It left me speechless and in awe of God. How could you not believe that God hears your prayers if that happened to you?! It was too much of a coincidence to be one.  God can and does move in a moment.  But that is not always the best thing for us.

There was a deeper lesson that the Lord was teaching me in this time, that I would not realize till later.  It was the truth that for lasting success you cannot come to it through the fast and flashy like this prayer was answered.  My habits and mindset toward money did not get miraculously corrected when I received this blessing.  I bet you can guess where I ended up just 9 months later? Yep right back in debt.  This time over the next 2 years I’d get in even deeper and before I realized it I had $18,000 of debt. I was avoiding the prompting that was always in the back of my mind to dig in and make a budget that actually took me out of my current situation into one where I could grow and prosper.

AFter hitting a point of such financial frustration I chose to take action and do the Financial Peace University course by Dave Ramsey.  That journey got me to face my emotional connection to money and my bad habits.   Little by little I took steps out of debt. It was not always pleasant.  It definitely was not flashy.  It was however successful. It happened much faster than I expected, taking just 13 months.  Beyond that I now see how a budget does not bind you to be a servant to money but the opposite.  You are the one with the authority to direct your money where to go. Moving out of such a place of poverty I realize how much more there is to learn and apply the “little by little” to how I build my business and how I build relationships. Certain things can not be rushed to be done right.

As you dream for the new year be willing to take the course that goes down the little by little.  That does not mean it is a small dream or vision.  In fact I believe the dreams that you know take way more than just your strength, diligence and vision require this all the more.   The kind of dreams that are so big it takes many hands to carry it.  The benefit is for all those who partner with you in the dream. When we are submitted to God in such a way where we operate in the little by little it builds in us a faithfulness that even in a moment where he moves suddenly our character is firmly planted in Him and His processes. We are accepting of progress over perfection in the depths of the trenches. We all need a healthy awareness that a lot of factors are out of our control.  We can only chose to respond the best way possible to the situation.  Trusting that in God at the end we will be victorious.

Trust the journey.  Do not get envious of what seems to be the fast and furious success of others.  Keep your eyes on your own lane.  In time you will see their success evaporate away.  God can move in a moment, but we can’t sit and wait for the God with a magic want to swoop in and bless us.  He is wanting more for us that just to bring us blessing.  He wants a deep relationship with him.  His desire is for us to become more and like him so our blessings can be a blessing to others.

If you have been diligent and plugging away this last year in the little by little I want to encourage you specifically today.  You are on the right track.  Your breakthrough is on this road.  You will see it come to pass.  I pray your path goes at a supernatural pace, but that your heart stays submitted to the process of growth little by little no matter how long that is.  God is increasing you to such a size that when He brings your increase it will not consume you.

Until then… take it little by little.