Here, friends, is where the rubber first meets the road. If we are to desire to become BETTER—to become more like Jesus—we must first get out from under our warm and fuzzy blanket of comfortable complacency and we must BEGIN the pursuit.
Robert Collier writes, “Take the first step, and your mind will mobilize all its forces to your aid. But the first essential is that you begin. Once the battle is started, all that is within and without you will come to your assistance.”
All the planning and praying in the world does not accomplish even the tiniest bit if we do not ever take that that very first step and start the very thing about which we have been procrastinating. Thinking does not bring change—only action can.
It does not matter the call—no matter how big or how small is the task laid out before us, it all begins with the first, tentative step, setting everything into motion.
It may be, like seven of the tribes of Israel, that you are being called, right here and now, to claim something that has been promised to you by a Mighty, Giving God:
The whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The country was brought under their control, but there were still seven Israelite tribes who had not yet received their inheritance.
So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you?” (Joshua 18 1-3)
It may be, like Solomon, the son of David, that you are being called to build something of significance to the glory of the Lord:
“Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
“I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the LORD a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the LORD be with you.”
Then David ordered all the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon. He said to them, “Is not the LORD your God with you? And has he not granted you rest on every side? For he has given the inhabitants of the land into my hands, and the land is subject to the LORD and to his people. Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.” (I Chronicles 2:11-19)
Or it may be, like Nehemiah, that the work you need to begin may be one of rebuilding something that has lost its former glory and usefulness:
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. (Nehemiah 2:13-18)
Whatever the work we are being called to—and whatever bit of Jesus we are being formed into though the process—we can rest assured its success does not on rest solely on our own efforts:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)
If any good work is to be done, whether it be in us or through us, we must first get our fanny’s up off the couch, lace up our running shoes, and head out the door into the street before anything of significance can occur.
If we are to achieve it, we must first begin it.