The end of January. To be honest, the zeal and enthusiasm with which I started the year have begun to wane.
Just three weeks ago, I was filled with hope and motivation. Filled with thoughts like, “This is my year!” “This year will be different!” “This is the year of big dreams and even bigger accomplishments!”
The burst of energy that surged with the beginning of the year has slowly faded and I’m in a fight. A fight to move forward. A fight to maintain some of the strides I made the first three weeks of the year.
My to-bed early, up-early, healthy eating, exercising, voracious reading aspirations aren’t what my flesh craves. My flesh wants to quit, throw in the towel, eat a box of Oreos, hit the beach, push the snooze button and gradually drift back to comfort.
But if I don’t give up, perhaps these tiny steps forward – if I keep persevering – will get me closer to where I hope to go.
There’s a story recorded in the Old Testament book of Zechariah that gives me great encouragement when facing the end-of-January weariness and staring at the long road ahead.
Many years earlier, the temple where God people worshiped had been destroyed and the people had been taken into exile. A man named Zerubbabel was given permission to lead a remnant of people back to their homeland.
Here’s what God spoke to Zerubbabel in Chapter 4,
Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:7
I love this! In other words, you can try to do this on your own. You can fight, work, strive and strain and you may see a little progress. But if you will learn to trust God and tap into his unlimited power, you will discover a source of strength you’ve never experienced or even knew existed.
God’s message to Zerubbabel continues,
8 Then another message came to me from the Lord: 9 “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Zechariah 4:8-9
If you study about the rebuilding of the temple detailed in the books of Ezra and Haggai, you’ll find the initial phases of the construction went slowly.
In fact, after 18 years all they had done was laid the foundation. Talk about being behind on a building project! They had work needs, family needs, distractions and opposition from other ethnic groups living in the area.
With all they had to do just to keep their daily life moving forward, when would they possibly find time to do what God was asking them to do?
The work was hard…long…not going as they planned. So they eventually stopped.
Isn’t this how we sometimes feel, too? Things aren’t moving as quickly as we hope. We’re not seeing the progress we wanted.
- You’ve been exercising, but haven’t seen the weight loss
- You’ve been eating healthy, but haven’t seen your health improve
- You’ve been working faithfully at your job, but haven’t received the promotion or financial compensation you expected.
- You’re trying to save money, but your debt is still growing.
- You’ve applied everywhere, but still haven’t found a job.
It’s slow…tiresome. We want to give up. But before you do, listen to God’s encouragement to Zerubbabel,
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10 NLT
Isn’t that exciting? The Lord rejoices to see the work begin! You’ve got to place one foot in front of the other, one stone upon another stone. You have to start where you’re at and keep moving forward.
God rejoices to see you be faithful and consistent in the small things.
Perhaps this is where you’re at right now. Whether it’s your diet, your exercise, your budget, your devotional life,…
The yearning to start something will always be greater than the desire to finish.
Here’s my encouragement to you,
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Don’t give up! Jesus is walking alongside you every step of the way. And I’m gonna guess that He gets greater joy out of watching us along the journey than the actual finish line.
Small consistent steps forward will eventually get you to your desired destination.