The voice on the other end sounded overwhelmed. There was no need to point out that, along the way, past decisions started chipping away at present success. Not-so-big choices to let a few things go led to a single, hard-to-salvage outcome. A small challenge was now a big problem. Mercy came easily, because I’ve been in the same place. Success can be sacrificed one small decision at a time.
What now? What now that I’m so far behind, the deadline is impossible? What now that my house is such a mess, I don’t know where to start? What now that my marriage is so cold, it’s too late to rescue? What now that I’ve done so much damage, forgiveness is a joke? What now?
So many big problems begin with small choices.
“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song of Solomon 2:15 – ESV)
When faced with challenges, created by our own doing or by others, I’ve found success begins with something like breakfast. In the current state of things, we can’t afford to let the basics go. Just as failure begins with seemingly insignificant actions, a new course begins with small choices. Habits, patterns, and routines create structure in our days. We underestimate their power to keep things of substance in place. A new direction can begin with the choice to “have breakfast,” followed by doing the next good thing.
Good habits. Wise patterns. Clean routines. Success begins with small choices. Like Breakfast.
I know I need to make the bed, pick up dirty socks, raise the shades, rinse out the sink, make vegetables with dinner, brush my teeth, go to church, pray daily, read my Bible, and watch my language. But I’m human, and I get tired of doing those things over and over. Who’s to know if I leave the sheets on for six months? Who’s to know if I keep leftovers longer than I keep my phone contract? Who’s to know if I never floss? Who’s to know?
We may fall into the trap of thinking these things don’t matter and no one will know, but eventually we reap the results of how we live. This isn’t to say our work earns our blessings or our efforts make us acceptable to God. Only Jesus can change our hearts and make us a “new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17) giving us wisdom and strength to follow His ways over and over. Outcomes reveal small choices.
If we want to succeed, it begins with something small like breakfast. As we learn to persevere and faithfully pursue small things, we prepare for greater opportunities. Yesterday I was reminded of the Apostle Paul’s answer for how to re-calibrate our conduct:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control…” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
“Discipline” just means to “keep it under control.” This week I’m asking God to show me areas of my life that need to be realigned and brought “under control.” Because He is full of grace (giving us what we don’t deserve) and mercy (not giving us what we do deserve), He helps us by changing our lives from out of control to under control. His control. And His control leads to peace for life. We start with one good choice and repeat, over and over. God loves to “make all things new,” (Revelation 21:5). It’s not a complicated first step. Success begins with breakfast.
What are your “must do” good habits necessary for your good outcomes?
If you’re on a path you want to change, what could be your first good step?