How to Take Hold Of Immeasurably More
Today’s COMPEL blog post comes from Encouragement for Today writer and speaker, Alicia Bruxvoort.
When my youngest son was a toddler, he accessorized every outfit with a bulky silver tape measure. Clipped to his waistband or hooked through a belt loop, his favorite tool was handy for appraising just about anything — toy tractors or bicycles, popsicles or skateboards.
Although the calculations were useless to a 3-year-old with no grasp of numbers, Joshua spent much of his day wielding that shiny tape measure.
“Would you like cereal for breakfast?” I’d ask my little boy when he awoke.
“Maybe, if it’s seventy-seven,” he’d reply as he aligned his ruler along the side of the yellow Cheerios box.
“Milk or juice?” I’d question.
He’d stretch the tape measure across the milk carton; then sidle it up to the jug of juice. “I’ll take the juice because it’s fifty-sixteen…”
Eventually, Joshua’s pointless calculations tried my patience. His quirky obsession was no longer endearing; it was exhausting.
One night when my little boy insisted on measuring every blanket on his bed before turning the lights out, this tired and frazzled mama grabbed the silver tape measure and threw it on the floor. Then, in one of my most ignoble parenting moments to date, I stomped my foot and screamed, “Stop all the measuring! Those numbers don’t even mean anything!”
Joshua stared at me for a bewildered moment before his green eyes filled with tears (and his weary mama’s did, too).
Of course my young son isn’t the only one who’s ever had a penchant for meaningless measurements. If I’m honest, I’ve struggled with my own faulty rulers, too. When I first began to write and speak, I knew my mission was to use my words to point to Jesus. I wanted to build His kingdom and steward my gifts as He directed.
But as my ministry grew, I found myself carrying around an invisible tape measure. It wasn’t clipped awkwardly to my belt loop; it dangled dangerously in my mind. When I wielded this invisible ruler, I was quick to assess the value of my work by my own perceptions of size and significance. I measured the success of my efforts by the accolades of my audience or the width of my reach, the number of my social media followers or the traffic on my blog.
Instead of igniting my confidence, my short-sighted gauges stole my joy. I began to doubt my gifting and question my calling. Then, one day, as I was reading my Bible, I was struck by Jesus’ words in , John 14:23: “Anyone who loves Me will listen to My voice and obey…” (John 14:23a, The Voice).
In one simple sentence, Jesus reminds us that God measures success differently than we do. He’s not concerned about the size of our reach or the shimmer of our acclaim. He’s looking for obedience and intimacy. I pictured my young son with that shiny silver measuring tape in his hand and a string of nonsensical numbers on his tongue, and I realized that I wasn’t much different than my preschooler. I’d been wielding my own meaningless measures too.
Humbly, I asked God to help me lay down my ridiculous rulers and pick up the plumbline of obedience and the precedent of love. My flawed measuring system didn’t disappear overnight; but something significant shifted in my ministry as I chose to focus on obedience instead of achievement. My joy for writing returned and my confidence in my calling flourished.
Friends, I believe obedience looks different for each of us, but I think it always begins with open ears and a willing heart. Some days my obedience looks like crafting a devotional that encourages thousands of readers across the globe, while other days it looks like writing a note to my neighbor and walking it across the street. Some days my obedience looks like standing on a stage and speaking to a crowd, while other days it looks like standing in a corner and speaking to one child. Some days my obedience looks like scattering words across social media, while other days it looks whispering words in prayer.
But always obedience looks trusting God with the outcome of my efforts. I don’t know where you’re at today in your writing journey, dear friends. Maybe you’re soaring in confidence or stumbling in discouragement. But I do know this—when we lay down our meaningless measures, God can take our daily obedience to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
About Alicia Bruxvoort
Alicia Bruxvoort is a writer, speaker and abundant life seeker who is passionate about helping women encounter Jesus wherever they are. For more than two decades Alicia has been buoying women’s hearts with words of encouragement and biblical truth on the stage and on the page. In addition to writing devotions for P31’s Encouragement for Today, Alicia is a contributing author to Always There, a devotional book celebrating the presence of God in the trenches of motherhood. And her articles on faith and family have been featured in magazines such as Thriving Family, MomSense, Today’s Christian Woman, and Power for Living.
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“I chose to focus on obedience instead of achievement.”
It’s so easy to get distracted by measurements. Thank you for the reminder to look beyond them.
Thank you so much Alicia (noble one). These words are priceless treasures. I am reminded that obeying God in each moment gives immense value to the bigger picture and is glorifying to Him. I am encouraged to mingle patience with obedience too. Sometime toddlers can test our patience and it serves me well to remember that those time are opportunities to be obedient too.
I have read three of these encouraging devotionals this morning. My take “a- ways” are, not to look for the big crowds, but to realize that my writings can speak to different audiences; taking small steps are a great way to go. I know God is a God of small beginnings so I trust Him to be there for me.
I put your “small steps” quote on my bulletin board this evening… it hangs on the wall in front of my desk. I knew it was a message God wanted me to hear. They were words He wants me to remember.
Thank you Alicia for your words of encouragement. When I am plagued with doubt, faced with rejection and overcome with fear I will remind myself to choose to “focus on obedience instead of achievement” and I will trust “God with the outcome of my efforts.” Blessings 😀🙏♥️
What a sweet use of one of your your worst moments.
Serene, you’re right! It sure was kind of God to use my mess-up to help me stop measuring up. I do love the way God can take ANYTHING and use it for our good and His glory 🙂
Thank you for your words of encouragement!
Hayley, You’re welcome:)