Measureable Difference

tape-1056224_1920I take a lot of notes. Whenever I hear something clever, interesting, thought-provoking or hilarious, I try to write it down as quickly as I can. You just never know when your next writing inspiration will spring up.

Unfortunately, these aforementioned notes are frequently on random papers or the back of a napkin because, unlike other more organized artists, I don’t always have my writer’s notebook with me. Like this, written on the back of a not-quite-finished coloring sheet:

“Jesus asks His followers to do the impossible every day – even when we know it is a drop in the bucket, futile at best.
Even when we know our greatest effort will not make a humanly-measureable difference.”
Humanly  measurable difference.
That’s it.
The hinge, the lynch pin for all of the angst of teaching and studying and writing.
Serving on the Welcome Team and Production Team. Leading Pioneer Girls. Twelve years of questions and doubt about teaching.
Watching others.
Pleasing others.
For years, I have measured … . Well, that’s it. I have measured.
I’ve measured me and you and success and numbers and work. I have lined us up and marked the door jam.

I’m not sure when I wrote those words or who said humanly measureable difference. But it feels like today was the right time for them to emerge from the pile of scattered writing notes.

I have two events coming up – this weekend and the end of April – about which I am feeling a bit unnerved.

You see, on Tuesday, I woke up with a sore throat. My history on sore throats is that no matter the cause – strep, cold, virus, whatever – I am left with at least two days of no more than a whisper before I am completely well again.

And this Saturday, I’m speaking on the practice of the Daily Examen, a spiritual discipline I can’t recommend highly enough. Not a big group, but our Women’s Ministry team has made an effort to present something nice and inviting. I’d hate to show up with my visuals and hand-outs only to sheepishly point, playing charades and offering raspy phrases and uncomfortable silences.

And then, at the end of April, I am hosting a 2-day retreat, In the Hands of the Potter, which you can read about here. I’ve been planning it since last July and it involves not a small amount of money, which means that registrations are important. And let’s just say that we’re not full up yet.

Good golly, Miss Molly.

I have absolutely no healing skills of my own – save for throat lozenges and friends with powerful healing prayers – and no control over the plans or finances of anyone who may be considering the retreat.

Yet, I continue to fret. I continue to believe that my anxiety will make a measurable difference in the outcome of these events. I am convinced that if I wring my hands hard enough, make lists, dot the t’s and cross the i’s, post on Facebook, make the calls, prepare the supplies, and , each event will find success.

It’s not that I haven’t given them to God. I have. Several times – because I keep taking them back. Maybe just parts of them, but I find myself retrieving control of the meeting or the retreat.

I take them back so I can make another mark on the door jam. As if that measure has any eternal value. As if it makes any humanly measureable difference.

Both events, this Saturday and in April, are worthy of careful planning and attention. We have met and reviewed the details and what we need to do. We have assigned jobs and double-checked finances. We have prayed over them and asked God to bless each in His own way.

But, my lovelies, honest to goodness that’s about all we can do. Because we have no human measuring tape or scale to determine how or if hearts and souls are moving toward Jesus.

Accurately measuring the condition of hearts and souls is way above my pay grade.

That’s His job.


Accurately measuring the condition of hearts&souls is way above my pay grade. Click to Tweet


  1. I know it’s easy for me to lose my focus when storm clouds seem be raging all around.
    Keep your eyes on the Lighthouse, even midst this thing we call life 🙂

    “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
    ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬


  2. Sometimes I can’t give a good answer because I’m confused about the question. That happens too often to suit me. Mom


  3. Thank goodness He knows our hearts and desires! We can’t see the behind the scenes like He can. The ‘humanly measureable difference’ that is visible is when someone initiates a gathering in His name. The rest is up to others and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for stepping up Nancy. How do you know those steps aren’t going to end up measureable long jumps? So proud of you and so is He.


  4. What might I as a person of faith accomplish if I didn’t spend so much time rummaging in the junk drawer for the tape measure?! Nick used to remind me that if only one person shows up, s/he’s the right person and deserves my wholehearted, packed-house effort. We may never know what effect we had but that’s not the point, is it?

    And Nancy, both events will be perfect!


Leave a Reply to Jacqui Thomas Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s