If only I woulda…
There’s no question, I shoulda…
If that’s your assessment of the past year, then turn your head, move forward, and never look back.
The past few days I’ve been thinking through the past year and I’ve had more coulda, woulda, shoulda thoughts than I care to admit.
I confess I spent too much time spinning my wheels. I allowed my circumstances to cloud my vision and impede my forward movement. There were days I made good choices and moved forward… but those days were too few and far between. I don’t want another year of that. I don’t want to look back on this year with a bunch of coulda, woulda, shoulda thoughts.
Instead, I want to purposefully and successfully navigate the year.
And I’m going to take the sage advice of a long ago president, Teddy Roosevelt:
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Earlier in the week I discovered this quote and loved it so much I shared a printable with you. (Not the image above.)
I’ve been mulling it over ever since.
As I did, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a scriptural principle.
There’s this short story in the Old Testament…
A man from the town of Baal-Shalishah brought Elisha some freshly cut grain and twenty loaves of bread made from the first barley that was harvested. Elisha said, “Give it to the people so they can eat.”
“There’s not enough here for a hundred people,” his servant said.
“Just give it to them,” Elisha replied. “The Lord has promised there will be more than enough.”
So the servant served the bread and grain to the people. They ate and still had some left over, just as the Lord had promised. 2 Kings 4:42-44
Here was a man with bread… 20 loaves. It’s a lot… but I’m guessing they were not long loaves of sandwich bread. They were probably large enough for two people to share. So there is some absurdity in the request to give it to the people. We don’t know the whole story, but I’m guessing Elisha had prayed for bread and this was the answer to his prayer. And we need to remember… God is never stingy… He always provides enough.
Elisha took the bread he was given and gave it to the people. That was the doing. That bread was all he had. He didn’t ask the man to grind more grain and bake more bread… he took what he had. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
There’s another Old Testament story that has always spoken to me…
One day the widow of one of the Lord’s prophets said to Elisha, “You know that before my husband died, he was a follower of yours and a worshiper of the Lord. But he owed a man some money, and now that man is on his way to take my two sons as his slaves.”
“Maybe there’s something I can do to help,” Elisha said. “What do you have in your house?”
“Sir, I have nothing but a small bottle of olive oil.”
Elisha told her, “Ask your neighbors for their empty jars. And after you’ve borrowed as many as you can, go home and shut the door behind you and your sons. Then begin filling the jars with oil and set each one aside as you fill it.” The woman left.
Later, when she and her sons were back inside their house, the two sons brought her the jars, and she began filling them.
At last, she said to one of her sons, “Bring me another jar.”
“We don’t have any more,” he answered, and the oil stopped flowing from the small bottle.
After she told Elisha what had happened, he said, “Sell the oil and use part of the money to pay what you owe the man. You and your sons can live on what is left.” —2 Kings 4:1-7
This story is a such a good example of “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” The widow had one thing… a small bottle of olive oil. She could very well have said that she needed it. After all, olive oil was used in healing as well as in their food. It was an important commodity. Yet… the widow trusted… doing what she could, with what she had, where she was. Yes… she did need to ask her neighbors for empty jars… but there is beauty in that too. You see, using her oil and asking her neighbors for empty jars was something she could do, right where she was.
Do you look at this fresh new year with fear and trepidation?
Are you filled with what-ifs?
Does the new year look like one more uphill battle?
Stop those mental images and stop torturing yourself with unknown and no doubt improbable possibilities.
Instead trust God for each second, minute, hour, day, week, and month ahead.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Wouldn’t it be great to look back on this year knowing you did what you could, with what you had, right where you are… and trusted God to help you every step of the way?
As I take my first step into the New Year I’m taking this quote as a charge.
First… a charge TO DO. I want to purposefully, Do what I can.
Second… as I contemplated the next few words, “with what you have,” I asked myself… What do I have?
I have the Lord!
Ultimately that means I have everything I need. Because He IS all we need. He will provide me with wisdom, guidance, purpose, and resources… IF I make HIM my source.
The Lord is my shepherd.
I will always have everything I need. Psalm 23:1
God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I’m set for life.
My help and glory are in God
—granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust him absolutely, people;
lay your lives on the line for him.
God is a safe place to be. —Psalm 62:5-8 The Message (MSG)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
Within that context… my life has no limitations. I need to quit limiting myself or allowing my circumstances to limit me.
Third… the last words “where you are” seem almost irrelevant in the context of what I have.
I realize this “where you are” place and space where I live… needs to be seen in my mind as having endless possibilities. When I choose to live in God’s economy I do not have limitations. Though my situation may seem very restrictive… I now realize I need to ask God to open my eyes to seeing “where you are” (where I am) with His eyes. And doing so faithfully.
Let’s leave the coulda, woulda, shoulda’s behind us. Let’s step forward into the New Year in God’s power and strength, ready to do what we can, with what we have, where we are.
It’s going to be a very good year.
Happy New Year!!
And time to get our joy meters soaring!
Please join me in thinking back over the past week and counting seven things for which you are thankful. This simple exercise of counting and giving thanks together in this space is something we do each week to reset our compasses and put our eyes back on the Lord.
Thank you, God for…
- new possibilities, and the clean slate of a New Year.
- a curly white dog that never quits smiling.
- my husband and his support and encouragement.
- a slow week so we could recover from colds.
- a day of sunshine and no snow to start our New Year.
- filling my heart and mind with the desire to set goals.
- Your amazing love. May we not keep this gift of love to ourselves but generously share it with others.
Now…it’s YOUR turn!
List your ‘seven’ in the ‘share your extraordinary thoughts’ section below. You’ll be glad you did.
Thank you for stopping by and leaving your sweet thoughts.
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