Plod. Now that's a funny looking word. For that matter, it sounds funny, too. My last two days at work have been extremely quiet, so I've done alot of thinking. I'm developing this train of thought on the "discipline of plodding". What am I talking about? Well, since you asked...
I'm convinced that I, and likely my generation and probably some ahead of me and many behind me have no concept on how to plod. You know, as in "I'm just plodding along". We typically have a very negative response to that thought. We get all poetic and idealistic and say that plodding is something like settling, like doing something because you have to instead of want to, because you're too afraid to take a risk. On occassion, all of those things may be correct. Most of the time, though, we don't have the discipline to stay a course when it ceases to be glamorous, when it becomes methodical, or just difficult and opposite of expectations. Look, I know this sounds like I'm preachin' at ya, but I'm preachin' at me, you just get to listen.
Alot of my life has been marked by an inability to plod since I walked off the football field at the University of Tulsa. Most of you know me as an artist and musician, but all that came after college. I did not play guitar, sing, paint (with the exception of the occasional ceramic piece for a gift, or on a r/c airplane) until well after I quit college. Before I was an artist, I was an athlete. I understood how to plod. I trained hard, in the weightroom, at the track, at home. I often didn't feel like it, was bored by it, or just would rather hang out with friends. But something in me understood that, at least for that time in my life, I was "called" to be an athlete. So I went to the gym, even after months of very little gains, and I worked. No one was watching, cheering, or anything like that. It was what I did, I plodded. Because I plodded, I got to play a couple of years at a Division I college, on a frame that was too short, too light, and too slow for major college ball. Along the way, I earned the respect of several guys who played in the league, you know, the NFL. Now, I'm not bragging, just talking about a point in my journey when I understood plodding, and how it worked itself out in my life.
I lost that for some reason after football, or, post-footballism, to sound more buzzy. It has been to my detriment in virtually all areas of my life, my weight, my finances, career, and struggles in those areas then lead to struggles in relationships. I'll draw this down to my struggle with weight since I've been posting alot about that recently. I'm off to a really good start. I'm fast approaching, however, the place in this struggle where I often wash out and quit. Some people assume that if someone is overweight it's because they don't have discipline. For me, that is true, but not how it would be presumed. In my struggle to lose, I have disciplined my body in ways that those who would accuse me for having the lack would never survive. I've been on a liquid diet where I ate one solid meal over the course of a month. I have given up everything that tastes reasonably good, I have simply starved. I've done this for months at a time. I can really discipline myself in those ways. I'm overweight because I don't have the discipline to plod along when you stop losing 6 pounds a week and start losing 3 to 4 pounds in a month. The discipline to stay the course when you have no visible change in your body for months. To keep making good choices when all passion to be in shape is lost, and it's down to a matter of the will. This is where I fail, and where with all the help available to me I hope to succeed this time.
Weight is not the only place I fail to plod. I fail to plod in my faith and calling. Let me talk about Joseph for a minute, maybe one of the greatest plodders of all time. Joseph got his calling at about seventeen. He didn't know all that it meant, but he had been given a dream from Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and his father Jacob. In a terrible turn of events, not only did his calling not materialize immediately, it appeared to have been lost in a sea of betrayal, lies, and hate. Joseph could have decided he wasn't called to be a slave, and given up. Instead, at the household of Potiphar, he just began plodding. He soon rose to a place of authority in that household. When another encounter with lies and betrayal sent him to Pharoahs prison, he didn't waste away in his cell, he just started plodding again, doing what he knew. One thing he knew was dreams, even if it appeared his own would never happen. Then, one day, it happened. As he plodded along, he finally after many, many years, lived out his calling in fulfillment of the dreams he had as a teenager.
I believed several years ago that I was called into vocational ministry. The doors to that kind of ministry never opened, and I even began to wonder if there was such a call. The fact that we discussed that (while talking about a completely different call) Sunday morning may be what started me down this path. What I have done a miserable job at while waiting to fulfill that call on my life is plod. I've bounced job to job, never really engaging and really working at something. And while in the last several years I've attempted to do that, I've often not been disciplined enough to plod in a position I wasn't "called" to. Joseph consistently rose to the top in his various stops, I've not risen anywhere. I'm not trying to just hammer myself, I'm trying to name a very important hindrance in my life, get it exposed, and beat the hell out of it. The fellowship I'm called to lead worship in, I hope I'm there for the rest of my life. It may not be the place that pays me to do vocational ministry. Part of what makes the struggle with being overlooked at the ministry position I recently blogged about was that it was the seeming fulfillment of both calls in my life: to vocational ministry and to Rivendell. Now with that not being the fulfillment I thought it would be, what will I do now? My desire is to begin, for the first time in a long time, to plod. To live in this moment now, to give myself to where God has me vocationally at this moment, and where I may be vocationally next. The Bible, especially in the Wisdom books, seems to say, live your life where you're at right now. Enjoy the life you've been given. Plod with a grin on your face.
Wow, this is approaching novel in length. If you're still with me...good Lord you've been in front of the computer too long, get up! Okay, just kidding, but thanks for sticking around. There's another word that might work for "plodding": faithfulness.