Hit singles

I read somewhere that an embarrassingly high number of Americans think that their retirement is going to come from winning the lottery.  Yes, they are foolish, but that kind of thinking is actually pretty prevalent in various aspects of our lives.  I am guilty of it and you may be too.

We all have mountains in our lives.  They may be financial in nature or related to health.  They might be family issues.  Or, you might have lofty goals that seem almost unachievable.  For example, you might want to become a great pianist.

For some reason, we fall into the trap of thinking we can only climb those mountains by hitting home runs.  For example, if we have accumulated a lot of debt, we start looking for a quick rich scheme.  If we are 50 pounds overweight, we start shopping for magical diet pills.  If we want to become an expert at something, we look for the holy grail system that will change us overnight.

Let’s face it.  We are conditioned to think this way partly because of the media we consume.  No one talks about average people.  They talk about the super rich, the super talented, the super successful and the super lucky.  We hear so many amazing stories that we start to think we are due for one ourselves.

And then as Christians, we know that God is a God of miracles.  We may start to believe that if we just pray hard enough and with enough faith, our miracle is coming.  Very often, I am afraid we look at God as a piggy bank of miracles to bail us out of our problems.

As a rule, I am not convinced it works that way.  Yes, God can pay off someone’s massive debt in an instant in an infinite number of ways.  But that is not the way it normally happens and it would probably not be very beneficial for us if it were.  As a parent, we would be doing our children wrong if we dropped everything they wanted in their lap without making them work for it.  Likewise, we usually need the teaching that comes through the struggle much more than we need a instantaneous and miraculous conclusion.

That is not to say we should not pray for miracles.  But at the same time, we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.   And when we get to work, we should avoid the trap of searching for our own miracle–the miracle pills, the miracle business, the miracle seminar, etc.

In other words, don’t focus on home runs.  Just start hitting singles and hit singles every day.   You can be a much better pianist if you just practice some every day.  You can eliminate massive debt if you consistently make progress month after month.  You can lose weight if come up with a plan to drop a pound or two each week.

I am still young, but my experience tells me that mountains are almost almost conquered a step at a time.  Interview people that have conquered mountains and you will hear about years of struggle and pain.  That is just the way it is.  And not surprisingly, at the end of the day, conquering mountains is more satisfying when it happens that way.