I think the beaver knows a thing or two about “focus”. His lens is fixed on the next bite, not the distant, daunting challenge of his endeavor. Boy, that tree is TALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! If I were him, I wouldn’t look up too often…that would be so discouraging!
We often hear the phrase, “busy as a beaver”, but busyness is one thing. Focus is completely different.
I can remember the story that my mother in law tells of a woman who had a nervous breakdown. This woman was a friend and neighbor of hers who had a number of children. When asked, what had pushed her to the breaking point, she said, (and she was serious), “It was the laundry”! I can remember thinking, “”the laundry? How could that push someone over the edge?”
Fast forward a few years and I fully understood the “It was the laundry” statement! With a husband who is a general contractor and 5 sons and one daughter, all who were involved in sports and playing hard, I found myself knee deep in laundry day after day. People were always needing the right uniform with the right color of socks, or the chorus shirt and tie or the favorite pair of jeans for school. And so often, I’d hear those words in my head, “It was the laundry…” And smile thinking that woman was probably not so fragile after all… I get it…
So here’s the thing. I want to be more like the beaver. I want to look at the task before me and not see the vastness of the job ahead of me, but just do the next thing : Pair the next sock, fold the pair of jeans, hang the uniform up. Looking at the mountain of laundry or bills to pay or reports to write can sometimes feel so overwhelming, especially when combined with the little trials that we face on a day to day basis. But just like the beaver chips away at his tree one bite at a time, we can “chip away” at our tasks one step at a time.
Years ago, I loved to listen to Elisabeth Elliot on the radio. She was an incredibly spiritual woman who devoted her life to serving God and sharing Christ with others. And do you know what advice she often gave? Okay, here it comes, the insight from this spiritual giant was…”Do the next thing.” What, that’s it?! That’s the advice she often gave to wives and mothers? Yes. All that she shared was undergirded by the belief that we are to love God and serve Him above all else. But the ordinary and “spiritual” should walk hand in hand. And when we know that the little things that we do on a daily basis like folding socks and scrubbing pans are really just a form of honoring God in our homes, well,the task doesn’t seem quite as heavy, or as big. We just do the next thing.
I want to be like the beaver…who takes on the challenge and vision of accomplishing a huge task, but has the focus and discipline to know that it takes one bite at a time to accomplish that purpose.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23
P.s. I’ll keep an eye on this tree at the river’s edge and see the progress the beaver is making! Will keep you ‘posted’!!
Photo taken at the Broad River Greenway,
Boiling Springs, North Carolina