Move Forward in Small Steps

We had two of our fuchsia winter over in their hanging pots just sitting on the ground along the back fence. Then this spring new shoots appeared so I hung them in the usual spots and began watering them.

They didn’t look as bushy nor as beautiful at first as the ones brought home from Freddies or elsewhere, but they would get there. Little, tender shoots, leaves, then flowers. Early on in the process when the world had shut down, the “stay at home” order in place, the governor’s orders weren’t communicated to this Finch couple. They came by one day- on a tour of the neighborhood searching out the perfect spot for building their new home. Mr. And Mrs. Finch flew around the middle hanging fuchsia talking, landing and talking more. Finally, they checked the foundation, mapped out where they wanted doors and windows, and flew off.

They must have hit Home Depot for they soon began to return with building materials—and soon had constructed their nest. Each morning I water the fuchsia, I tell the mama, everyday, otherwise her home’s exterior foliage would die. She gets it. Flies off morning after morning. One day she came back to watch me, flying around me and the fuchsia perhaps to make certain I did it just right. I greeted her and she greeted me, then she waited in a nearby tree until I was done. They are an attentive couple. Mr. Finch, it appears, brings bits and pieces of needed furniture, while Mrs. Finch hangs curtains in the house.

Each day watering the fuchsia I have such a sense of hope. “New life will be coming to our Finch family neighbors,” I’ve thought. They have plans, visions and dreams in the middle of a pandemic. And indeed, in short order four little babies were in their nest talking back to mom and dad.

New life will come to us too. So, even now, keep your plans and visions and dreams intact.

This current reality is not a permanent, unending one, although there are days it might feel like it. I don’t imagine with all the current governmental complications, we will ever head “back to normal.” But we also will not remain at this level of restriction.

I love how creation takes no notice of the pandemic, except to enjoy the lack of human pollution! I’ve not seen one bird looking fretful or other creature fearful, wearing masks, or keeping physical distance. Not one is following a “stay at home” order. For them, life remains unchanged.

This caused me to wonder, what might it look like for me to live life in the reality of God’s provision, not in the crossfire of a pandemic? So, no matter what someone might believe about the cause, the dimension, the state of the world with plans of evil or no plans at all, what might it mean to live in this time with the hope of Mr. and Mrs. Finch? This would mean living in the fullness of all of what is given by God moment by moment into my life, not based upon restrictions but based upon the fullness of provision.

Like Paul the Apostle penned his call to “give thanks in all circumstances” while chained to a guard in prison.

Like Joseph of whom it was noted “God was with him,” in the middle of dark times.

Like Madame Guyon imprisoned 8 years later in her life, in all kinds of horrible circumstances, but testified to the abiding presence of Jesus and his joy in her heart.

Currently writing a piece of my own autobiography I have seen just how frequently I bypassed the very gifts of joy and thanks in the middle of my own darkness. I forgot dreams and visions, forgot to settle into a nest of contentment, opting instead for sadness. The twinkle left my eye, as Karen said, making me shuffle about worried and burdened.

This grandmother had a tip for such seasons. Perhaps her thoughts will speak to your own heart as well:

My grandmother once gave me a tip:

In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.

Do what you have to do, but little by little.

Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.

Wash the dishes.

Remove the dust.

Write a letter.

Make a soup.

You see?

You are advancing step by step.

Take a step and stop.

Rest a little.

Praise yourself.

Take another step.

Then another.

You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.

And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.

Elena Mikhalkova

Recently, I came across this word into uncertain times, written down from God by the Prophet Isaiah, some 2800 years ago yet so applicable today:

“The Lord has said to me in the strongest terms: Do not think like everyone else does. Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind closed doors will be the end of you. Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe.”

Isaiah 8:11-14a, emphasis added.

Especially in light of current pandemic, with the countless theories, thoughts, fears and uncertainties, I heard this as a clear address from the Lord to me. Even if there is some scheme behind much of what we are experiencing today, which there may be, even if, we need not look down at that, but up to the One who is bigger, brighter, stronger and ABLE to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond what we can ask, think or imagine. We need to hold to the hope of Mr. and Mrs. Finch.

We need not bypass the gifts of joy and thanksgiving.

This was given to Isaiah in midst of a pandemic of sorts — the King had turned away from God (to the point of sacrificing his own son in the fire to the false god molech). The nation of Judah was to be attacked by two armies and they would be attacked by a third. Therein Isaiah wrote – “the Lord has said to me in the strongest terms…”

Build nests. Set up shop. Believe in the future. Pray for peace. Pray for our leaders. Pray for God to be glorified in all things. As Paul wrote, Rejoice Always! Pray Continually! Give Thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess 5:16-18). Need it be said any clearer?

I don’t read — worry more, pray less, fret, get mad at what bad people are doing or saying, yell at the president, destroy and deface structures, etc. Nope. Mr. and Mrs. Finch know better — they’ve built their home, their nest “a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God” (Psalm 84: 3). With them, be blessed. Give thanks daily, even for the random folk who serve you, like me, the guy who serves Mr. and Mrs. Finch daily, watering their garden.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. David Luce says:

    Hi, Brian.

    I love your New Camino walk this morning. Your descriptive writing is always so beautiful, and the pictures are a bonus.

    I have found some of your earlier letters (some in the ’90s) in a file. A veritable Treasure Trove! (Tho’ I know where the treasure came from! Sometimes with a ‘trove’ I understand its source was unknown?)

    I am talking to Phil about how best to send them on to you, and I have also written out Hymn verses & couplets from the Methodist Hymn Book (1933). I must get them onto the screen. And, hopefully, before long I will root out quotations from my Note Book and send them on to you as well.

    I’m praying that you will soon have something positive to report about regular remuneration for your Counselling and Mediation.. It’s owed to you!

    Tons of love,

    Pops:

    > Camino Way 2016 Shimer posted: ” We had two of our fuchsia winter over in > their hanging pots just sitting on the ground along the back fence. Then > this spring new shoots appeared so I hung them in the usual spots and began > watering them. They didn’t look as bushy nor as beau” >

    Like

    1. Camino Way 2016 Shimer says:

      Ahhh Pops! You are such a gift to my heart and life! Thank you. Again I think the easiest thing is simply to take pictures of the letters/quotes and attach them to an email! How wonderful you have them! Some of yours on my end sadly were lost at some point! Love to you and family! Brian

      Like

  2. Janice says:

    Just read this message again and it blessed me again. I especially like the Isaiah passage at the end. Do you have the reference and which translation it is taken from? Thank you so much. You are an inspiration. ❤ Jan

    Sent from my Windows 10 device

    Like

    1. Camino Way 2016 Shimer says:

      Isaiah 8:11-14. Nlt — my printed version so not certain of edition. It is a great encouragement to me as well. Thank you Jan. Blessings on you! Love to you!

      Like

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