A few months ago, I found myself getting behind frequently in the blog reading world. I had already made some pretty tough determinations regarding what blogs would make the cut as Google Reader subscriptions because I only wanted to subscribe to blogs I could truly keep up with. Even so, it was easy to open Google Reader after two or three days “away” and find it full of well over 100 unread items.
At first I tried to skim through a few at a time in hopes of catching up. But, after several weeks of managing to never catch up, I finally did something I hate to do. I looked at my list, picked the five blogs I just had to read, and then clicked on “Mark all as Read” for the rest. Just like that I had a clean slate.
I think sometimes I try to play spiritual catch-up as well. I want to go back and fix a problem in myself. I feel like there’s a checklist I need to work through before I can move forward. For example, I want to make sure I have a perfectly organized prayer system so I can successfully work through my prayer list. I want to have a stockpile of great Scripture verses for every occasion before I start referring to Scripture in discipline. I want to be armed and ready.
On the one hand, I think it’s very important to be ready. I think being prepared and well versed in the Word is crucial. But, if I were to wait until all my ducks were in a row spiritually and with my knowledge – and even memorization – of Scripture, when would I actually succeed in accomplishing anything? When would I pray? When would I discipline my children well?
The beautiful thing about God is that He loves to start right where we are. He does it first with salvation. There are no habits we have to break or pick up, no practices we have to change to respond to His call. We come from where we are.
But, it doesn’t stop with that first act. Once we’re saved, we don’t have to have it all down pat before we can be used in His kingdom. If that were the case, we’d have no usefulness whatsoever on this earth. I’m reminded of the many times God uses the absolute pagan for His purposes. If He can do that, He can use me right here, right now.
But, the beauty of it is that while He’s using us, He’s also growing us. While we pray out of desperation and with no real prayer “plan” right now, He’s answering our prayers and helping us learn how to pray better. While we strive to discipline our children in a Godly manner, He’s bringing the resources we already know to our minds. Then, as we study and learn His Word more and more, He brings out more tools for us to use in this challenge of parenting.
There are times when we need to stop and catch up. There are times when we need to step back, take stock of where we are and what we’ve missed, and discipline ourselves to get it done. But, there are other times we need to just “Mark all as Read.” We need to stop preventing ourselves from going forward by allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by what we’ve missed. It’s time to start from where we are and trust that God will take care of filling in the gaps as we go along.