We have a large headquarters in El Paso for our ministries that we call Las Alas. It used to be an old department store, and we converted it into a place for our prayer meetings, offices and classrooms. Being a place where donations are collected to give to the poor, people tend to bring a lot of stuff to us. Sadly, some people donate their junk: old clothes that are stained, ripped, ragged; worn out mattresses, broken furniture. Those things get left at our door but never get used, so they end up stored along the sides of the walls or down in the basement.
The trouble is that after 20 years at our current location the place started to look like an overstuffed warehouse. We felt God’s call to clean up. So we called a community work bee and got together to begin the long process of sifting, sorting and putting the place in order.
At first, the tendency was to look around and get completely overwhelmed. But I was reading in the book of Nehemiah at the time, where God calls Nehemiah to organize the people to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. It was a gargantuan task, but Nehemiah rallied the troops and got to work. As with any good undertaking, there were people criticizing and saying it couldn’t be done. This verse really caught my eye:
Meanwhile the Judahites were saying:
“Slackened is the bearers’ strength,
there is no end to the rubbish;
Never will we be able
to rebuild the wall.”
“There is no end to the rubbish.” That was the temptation we were facing. But Nehemiah, in his wisdom (he was the man with the vision), divided people up and put them in charge of different sections. That way instead of looking at the whole city wall, they only had to concentrate on their portion of it and get to work fixing that.
We followed suit. We assigned different people as “team captains” to be in charge of a certain section: some tackled upstairs; others worked in the classroom; some took furniture that was in good shape across the border; another team filled up the dumpster with the junk that wasn’t worth salvaging. We all got to work. Because each team had a specific section and that was their responsibility, it became much more manageable.
That is a good principle for life: instead of looking at a problem in its entirety and getting overwhelmed, break it down into bite-sized pieces. Do one task and get that underway. Then tackle the next step or phase. The momentum of getting a small job done helps carry you forward.
The tactic of the enemy is to get us to look at the whole mess, the massive job, the accumulated debris, and get so discouraged that it paralyzes us and we give up before we start. But the Holy Spirit wants to empower us, encourage us and helps us to get the job done little by little.
We are making great headway in our huge cleanup job at Las Alas. We still have a lot to do, but each week it is looking more and more beautiful and ordered.
What big project or job are you putting off? Does it seem overwhelming to you? Instead of focusing on all you need to do to complete it, choose one little task — one drawer to clean out, one bill to pay, one phone call to make — and do that. Then choose the next little bit to get done. Before you know it, that job will be done and you’ll be ready to tackle the next big thing on your list.
“Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” Zechariah 4:10