Start with the Obvious

There’s this game I used to play on my phone called Wordscapes. It’s a word scrambling game where you’re given a certain number of letters and, using them, have to fill in a puzzle. It’s probably not a normal thing but I love that game where you take a word and see how many others you can make out of the letters. I find myself doing it all the time, sometimes even without realising I’m doing it. So basically, this game kept me well-entertained.

The levels, as with most games, became more challenging the higher you got. While sometimes I could just look at the mix and instantly find the longest word, it quickly became more likely that I’d look at a set of letters and just stare, unable to find a single word let alone the fifteen or so I needed to complete the puzzle. And the word that uses all the letters? Ha! Forget it.

But then I’d see a little word. Cat. Pathetic, when faced with the vast number I needed. Even possibly a little degrading, given a five-year-old could have picked it out. It didn’t make me feel clever, but it was a word. A place to start.

From that sad little prep-grade word come more. Fat. Act. Then tact, fact. And suddenly, the words would start flowing, building on each other until that puzzle I’d stared at blankly, thinking I’d never conquer it, was done. Complete. Every little box filled with words. Even the longest ones.

All because I started small.

Funny how often I still struggle with this in the everyday of my life. I like to think I’m beyond all that basic stuff. My self-esteem much prefers to start with the impressive things. The big words. The deep and meaningful conversations. The amazingly perfected final copy rather than the messy first draft. The life- and world-changing moments.

Not putting the same set of blocks or toys away three times in one day. Or sweeping under the dining room table, five or six times, in one day. Or doing laundry, every day. Or making school lunches. And dinner. Every single day. Nothing exactly life changing about that that’s for sure. It’s quite literally, child’s play. Depressing even on occasion, I’ll admit, to be doing the same simple jobs, time and time again, day after day, and then turning around to see them needing to be done again. It’s not showing off any of the skills I’ve learned in my thirty years or practising the spiritual gifts God has given me. Nope, it’s just picking up blocks and sweeping up crumbs. A toddler could do it.

But those blocks are not only building towers – and trying to trip me over and hide all around the playroom – they’re building the relationship between me and my son. As we sit there playing with them at various times during the day, he’s learning that I love him and that I’m there for him. One day, from those basic moments, the deeper ones will come. Same goes for the crumbs on the floor. They’re there because we ate together and spent that time together. Sure, they’re super basic, and anyone could do them, but the point is, I did. I spent that time with him. We made a mess, but we laughed together.

I do these little things every day. I did them yesterday, I’ll do them again tomorrow. They might seem pointless and depressing, but they’re important too.

Degrading as they may seem at times, there’s nothing wrong with the basics.

God can, does and is using them in your life and the lives of those around you.

All the time. He’s building on those small starts. They might not seem all that spiritual or life-changing at the moment, but they’re the place all that begins.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”

(Zechariah 4:10)

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