Thursday, March 22, 2012

One Spoon at a Time

by Barbara Early

I’m sure most of us can recall those moments of convergence. I’m not talking about anything new-agey or astrological, or citing some special omen when the planets align in the cosmos. I’m talking about those times when everything gets dumped into your lap all at once. And you don’t have nearly enough lap to hold it all, so things go cascading to the floor presenting serious tripping hazards.

You know what I mean, the times when the daughter’s dance recital is the same day as the son’s soccer game. Or the church dinner you need to set up for is the same day as the big client meeting--and your baby-sitter is home with the flu. Convergence--and not in a good way.

The things that converge on us aren’t always tasks that need to be completed. Sometimes they’re problems. You know, maybe you need clean clothes, but the repairman won’t come to fix the washer until Friday, so you load the laundry into the laundry baskets, drag them out to the car--along with your detergent, dryer sheets, and quarters enough to keep a video game junkie happy for life. Then you remember the stain-treater, so you run inside to get that. And when you get back into the car, you discover your cat climbing out of the laundry basket, so you chase him halfway around the neighborhood. He tears your arm to shreds when you catch him, but you eventually run him into the house. Meanwhile, you’re hot and sweaty, so you decide to take a cool drink along with you, only nobody bothered to fill the ice cube trays. No matter, you’ll drive through somewhere on the way. Let’s just start up the car, and…the battery is dead.

Now, that story may seem humorous, but sometimes convergence includes much more than trivial frustrations. Those things crashing down on us can be serious, life-shattering events. A diagnosis. An accident. The loss of a home or employment. A heartbreak. A death.

My reaction to these times of convergence, as a fairly mature Christian, is, I imagine, fairly typical among believers. I freak out. I complain to almost anyone who will hear, moan about my problems to God, and randomly burst into tears. My reaction to a convergence of work is generally to throw effort at it while stressing the whole time. A convergence of problems, on the other hand, might immobilize me completely. Eventually, based on years of spiritual growth and discipleship, I might remember to pray. And no, I suspect moaning to God might not technically be praying because it lacks one key ingredient: faith.

In Luke 18, Jesus tells a parable that the Bible says was to this end, “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” I’m not sure we do any harm to the meaning of the passage if we replace “faint” with “freak out.”

The idea is that God, who incidentally knows what’s on our plates, has an idea of how to deal with each thing that we face. And part of that is keeping our eyes off of the problem and on the Lord instead.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

And for those times when those tasks pile up on us? This story was shared recently in a Sunday school class at our church:

A man was brought up as one of the youngest of 12 children. You can imagine how many dishes that family created during the course of a normal meal. The children alternated dish-washing chores. One day, after a particularly large meal, (extra guests and lots of pots and pans), it was the youngest daughter's turn to do the dishes. The boy walked into the kitchen to spot his little sister standing in front of the overflowing sink, totally immobilized and in tears.

"How am I going to do all these dishes?"

The boy took a spoon in his hand. "Don't look at the mound of dishes. Just wash this spoon. And when you're done, wash another one." And then he stayed and helped her get through that whole pile, dish by dish.

I heard that story on the Sunday before one of the busiest weeks I’ve had of late. And I got through it!

One spoon at a time.

Question for discussion: Is there anything you've been fretting or fainting over that you can trust God with right now?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense, and Murder was released in e-book format from White Rose Publishing in December 2011. You can learn more about her writing on her personal blog: or see what's for dinner on her recipe blog:


  1. I cant think of anything specific but I know I hate "those kind of days". I am trying not to stress about having no computer. Praying the old one is not gone for good...

    When I have one of those days when everything goes wrong I remember that its generally just a "day" before it improves...

  2. Deb, computer issues are so frustrating, especially for a writer--since we spend so much time behind our keyboards.

    But today, enjoy the day with your fellow Inkies!

  3. Great post, Barb. Oh yeah, I can relate. My daughter, Jessie, is a prime example of this.

    She attended voice lessons in the city once a week, and often had recitals or competed in competitions. She also led worship at church once a month.

    The rule was that she couldn't attend youth or school functions the weekend of a singing event in case she stressed her vocal chords.
    Let's face it... teens like to yell and encourage each other.

    Jessie didn't like the rule, but accepted it. (At least it only took one time of rebellion when she couldn't perform at her best to release the wisdom.)

    But as a mother, my heart tugged when she needed to turn down the best fun stuff because they always seemed to happen the same weekend as important singing events.

    In Jessie's case, she couldn't do the one spoon at a time approach at the time, but now that she's on her own, I'm hoping the lessons I taught her back then will enable her to use the one spoon approach now that she's on her own. ie, go to the event, but on a low key... control your voice and don't stay too long.

  4. Anita--important lessons to learn.One such lesson that was hard for me is that you can't do everything--sometimes you just have to say no.

  5. Oh, AWESOME post! (She writes, still clad in her exercise clothes at 3 p.m., and still hasn't exercised.) It's that "do the next thing" rule. I'm not sure who said it, but it applies. All we can do is the "next thing" and when we look to the Lord and say, "what's next?" He walks us through.

    My fretting and fainting right now is over the prospect of trying to sell our house in the next 2.5 months. BUT... there's really nothing I can do about it, is there? So fretting is pointless. And besides, there's a verse in Proverbs that says, "Do not fret, for it only causes harm." I like to add "and wrinkles and gray hair."
    Thanks for the reminder, Barb, I needed it!

  6. Niki--
    Praying for the sale of your home. Right now it looks like we're staying put here, and I am soooo grateful.

    But I'm wondering if that whole "We might move" thing was God trying to give me empathy. Hugs, Niki!

  7. "One spoon at a time." I love it! I also love your convergence story, Barb. Very imaginative. Great post!


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