In early June 2004, I was speaking at the United Methodist Conference Center on St. Simon’s Island, Ga. I had spoken there on many occasions, but usually at women’s conferences. That year I was speaking to young adults, most of whom had combined conference activities with a little vacation with their children. It was a lively, energetic audience.
Unfortunately, it was also the time that swarms of gnats invaded the island. A nearby small town also had the gnats, as well as an elephant that had escaped from their zoo and roamed through the town. Some residents were terrified, until the the animal was tranquilized and taken back to the zoo. The following day, the headlines for the local newspaper were “We Can Handle the Elephants, but Save Us from the Gnats.”
When I read that article, I thought how true that is for most of us. When the big crises come — loss of a loved one, an unwanted divorce, a bad health diagnosis, or a financial crises — we can usually marshal our resources and handle the crises with poise and power. It’s the little everyday irritants that sabotage us.
I read recently of a man who walked across our country, beginning in Los Angeles and ending in New York. A reporter asked him, “What was hardest for you? Was it the desert, the mountains, or the rivers?” He replied, “It was neither of those. It was sand in my shoes.” Small things.
I’ve often wondered how Jesus managed the everyday irritants. I believe he had three things that made it possible. First, he never forgot his purpose and so dealt with the irritants from a calm center. Secondly, he did one thing at a time. I can’t imagine his rushing around Galilee or pushing people out of the way. Paul described this in Philippians 3:10-14.
Finally, he planted the seed of faith, cultivated it, but trusted God for the harvest. In other words, we should do our best, and trust God for the rest.
Contact Nell Mohney at firstname.lastname@example.org.