Are you a sprinter or a long-distance runner? I am more of a sprinter. I want the quick kill. I want to give it my all in one decisive event. But to faithfully put one foot in front of another with no immediate emotional gratification, with no quick sense of closure — that’s tough for me. But as we have been reminded, as recently as an article on the Star Wars saga, the “go for the big kill” is often not the best approach to deal with the key things in life. (Are spoiler warnings for Last Jedi still needed?)

In The Last Jedi, the Resistance lacks truly great generals. Commander Poe Dameron is a skilled fighter pilot but hardly a strategic thinker; he’s a hammer who sees a world full of nails. He gambles the Resistance bomber fleet on a shot to take out a First Order dreadnought-class star destroyer. Not only that, but he does so in violation of a direct order from General Leia Organa. The mission succeeds in knocking out the enemy ship, but at the cost of the entire Resistance bomber fleet, for which Poe is reduced in rank.

Seeking that decisive battle with the First Order only resulted in dead pilots and lost resources. It solved nothing in the long term.

(Angry Staff Officer, “In The Last Jedi, the Resistance Keeps Making the Same Tactical Mistake,” WIRED Dec 19, 2017)

I am not saying that there is no place for the dramatic decisive act. Remember Jesus’s death on the Cross? Still, Jesus appeared on the scene hundreds of years after the close of the Old Testament. Faithful patience was still needed.

Instead of the big heroic gesture, I believe the Kingdom of God progresses when regular folks do simple of acts of faithfulness every day. Remember the following line from Tolkien’s Hobbit?

Gandalf: “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [2012])

I have long suspected that the bulk of good in the world is not dependent on big people doing spectacular things but regular people faithfully doing the right things day by day. How will you be faithful in 2018?

In my seminar on “time management”, I help people to focus not so much on what they need to do but on who they are; to bear in mind the roles entrusted to them. For me that would include:

1. husband;
2. father;
3. son;
4. brother/uncle;
5. member of church community;
6. teacher/mentor; and
7. citizen.

In 2018, what will it entail for me to be faithful in all these roles? May the Lord help me to be faithful in the duties needed to sustain them. How about you? What are the key roles of your life? What would faithfulness to those roles look like in 2018? Some of us may encounter some heroic defining moments. But for most us, and for most of life, what is needed is to show up and do the right thing, to put one foot in front of another, to keep on running our race until we reach the finish line.

. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1a–2b NIV)

Warmest New Year blessings from all of us at Graceworks.