Monday Morning Devotion-January 8, 2024
One at a Time
*from January 2018
The Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to him and are safe. Proverbs 18:10
Ever heard of Pablo Casals? Who hasn't? He is pretty much considered the greatest cellist who ever lived. OK, so maybe you don't care for the cello or perhaps you have no opinion at all about that musical instrument. I still bet that you have heard the name Pablo Casals.
Casals played for Queen Victoria when he was 22 years old. He played for President John F. Kennedy when he was 86. He lived to the age of 96 and was still practicing the Cello three hours a day. When asked why, Pablo Casals said: "I'm beginning to notice some improvement." Obviously, this great man had lived by the credo that "you get better one practice at a time." Who can argue with that philosophy? Casals got to be pretty doggone good at playing the cello.
Mark Batterson ("Chase the Lion") also shares a story about when Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the Major Leagues. On April 18, 1946, Jackie hit a three-run homer over the left-field fence. As he crossed home plate the next batter up, George Shuba, shook his hand. An AP photographer captured this historic moment on film. As Batterson rightly concludes it was "one small handshake, one giant leap for racial equity in professional sports."
Not a whole lot of attention was paid to George Shuba even though he played for 7 more seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was a member of the 1955 World Series winning team,
But Shuba is mentioned in Roger Kahn's book "The Boys of Summer" as a guy with a swing that was "as natural as a smile." When told that Shuba went to a filing cabinet and pulled out a folder with a bunch of X's on it.
He explained that during the off-season he would swing a weighted-bat six hundred times a day, that was after working in his off-season job all day. So Shuba asked about the description of his swing, "You call that natural? I swung a 44-ounce bat 600 times a night, 4,200 times a week, 47,200 swings every winter." After each 10 swings, he would put an X on the folder so he could keep count and know when he reached his goal for the day. George Shuba was building a career in baseball one swing at a time.
Ever been accused of being in a hurry? You want to get ahead in whatever task you are doing in your life. But you don't get there. Or at best it takes a lot longer to get there than you had hoped for or expected. Batterson says, "No matter what dream you are chasing there are no shortcuts." Amen to that. I continue to learn that the hard way.
You have to win the day before you can win the week before you can win the month and before you can win the year. And you must win the year, year after year, to be a winner in life.
OK don't despair. The Lord gives little victories along the way when we do things the right way. We can have many causes to celebrate if we earn them by learning to stay in the present and doing a great job there. This kind of faith and hard work is rewarded by God.
Sometimes it can get frustrating. Just call me the "master of the rejection slip."
Everybody who writes is familiar with those. One of my Granddaughter Quinn's favorite movies, at least it used to be, you know how 8-year-olds are, is "Frozen." BTW that reminds me this is the Quinnster's birthday month. Happy 13th sweetheart.
There is a favorite line in the movie that the main character, Elsa, says: "The cold never bothered me anyway." Quinn has used that a lot when told to put on a jacket or sweater. One time we went to the park and the wind chill from 16 mph constant winds made it feel like 32 degrees, a miserable 32. Hey isn't this, Florida? Anyway, we both were bundled up so the cold never bothered us anyway.
But here's the point (you knew there was one coming, sometime, didn't you? It's that we are not to be discouraged when our one-at-a-time philosophy seems not to be working. Frozen gives us a real sign as to why we should not get discouraged.
The memorable song in the movie, you know the one that keeps running through your mind after you have heard it, in fact it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2014: "Let it Go." A song you have trouble letting go.
Here's the rest of that story. The husband-and-wife songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote this powerful ballad that was such an instant hit it sold more than ten-million copies in 2014. What most folks don't know is that they wrote 17 other songs that didn't make it.
Lots of times folks-writers-we give up or at least feel like doing so after two-or three rejections. As Batterson writes: "to achieve the highest level of success, in any field, you need a high pain threshold when it comes to failure."
We all fail at something, sometime. In fact, many times if you are human (if you aren't
then let me know what planet you are on. I'll add it to my list of countries in which someone has read these devotions. The number of countries has grown substantially, but that would bring my total of planets up to two.)
Not to sound like a broken record, but God does have a plan for your life. If He didn't you wouldn't be here.
Sarah Young reminds us that 'The Lord is always doing new things in our life. We should try to keep an open mind when we encounter things we haven't seen before or like the trapeze artist (I love this example because my Lovely Susette was a trapeze artist in the Flying High Circus at Florida State University). Like that trapeze artist who must have faith to let go of the safety of the swing in flight, reaching for the safety of the new swing, we may sometimes feel like we are in flight.
Just as my TLS and partner had to practice the trapeze act one day at a time to perfect it,
so are you called to work on the plan God has for you one day at a time. When you let go of that swing where you are, He will be there to catch you in flight and carry your dreams forward.
Prayer: Lord give us the wisdom to understand how we can make our lives and those of others better one act at a time. Amen!