"Do something, lest you do nothing."
I once heard this quote in a Joyce Meyer teaching, and its stuck with me for years. It's a great saying. In context, she was talking about doing good to others in the name of Christ by serving them, whenever you see a need in whatever capacity. She quoted Job: "The cause of him I did not know, I searched out," and taught that it's not a valid excuse to say we didn't know anyone in need, because a righteous man will do anything to find a need to meet. "Do something," she taught, when faced with a person asking for help, "lest you do nothing." It's better to do the smallest act of kindness, even if just a hug, smile, or kind word, than to do nothing at all.
I daresay this little tidbit of wisdom goes a long way in the natural world, too. I literally used this saying for a year, back when going to the gym was harder for me, and I was less disciplined about it. I never wanted to go to the gym, because I used to think, "When I get to the gym, I have to do such-and-such a task for so-long before I'm done," and it'd feel overwhelming, but then I started telling myself this new word of wisdom. All I'd say is, "I'm just going to show up. If I do anything at all, it's more than I would have done had I never gone." Do something, lest you do nothing. Usually, I'd end up doing a full workout anyway, because once I was there, I might as well. Eventually the gym just became a habit, and the pep talk and mental gymnastics were no longer necessary.
Today, I experienced the benefit of this attitude once more in regards to my spiritual life. I woke up late for my regularly planned devotions. Usually, I go to church in the mornings; I have the key. I know that if I stay home, I'll fall asleep, and I'm not disciplined enough to tell myself not to. This morning I could have slept for hours longer. I had no intention of getting up and every intention of skipping out on God. I was already an hour late, and for no particular reason, I wasn't feeling very spiritual or like I had much to say to God. But much like the gym, I told myself to just show up. Even if I hung out at the coffee shop that's below our church and read from one of my spiritual writings, instead of the "more spiritual" (but more involved) options of scripture reading and prayer, it'd be doing more than if I just skipped it altogether.
Well, unlike the gym, this time it didn't help me do more. Actually, I grabbed a coffee, sat down to read a couple chapters of The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, and fell asleep. I was late for work, too. Oh, epic spiritual man that I am!
Yet, while some might consider this a fail, because after all, I didn't actually pray or read the Bible, I consider it a success. The few sections in the book I did read were edifying, but more important than that, I showed up, and even if I did fall asleep and end up rushing to work, I felt completely satisfied with my morning. There was a sense of contentment, a knowledge that I did what I could do, and that at least I was there; at least I tried. I did something, rather than nothing.
So often, we're all or nothing kind of people. Fathers may sometimes tell their boys, either give it your all or don't bother. Now, there are many, often type-A personalities, who are very gung-ho about their lives with God and the disciplines they use to pursue Him. They need very little help, other than the natural constitutions of their minds. They have strong wills, and obedience comes easier for them. That's a great gift to have; it's how God made them and how I want to be. It's not me, though.
I have a weak will, a naturally independent and rebellious attitude, and various father issues that often put me in a confusing and contentious relationship with God. So, in accordance with whatever faith I have at the time, I have to do something, or I'll very easily do nothing. At the same time, I don't have to condemn myself when I can't or don't want to do everything. It's doing nothing that's really the greatest sin. After all, I have the Holy Spirit and, because of Him, I can do something, or I wouldn't be a Christian at all. But to do everything that I can do, and to do it consistently, is an act of God's grace that I often don't receive and probably won't receive until the Second Coming.
If you give yourself some grace; if you stop being an "all or nothing" kind of person, who gives up spending time with God because he's not praying two hours a day; if you determine to give some, no matter how little, even if you won't give all, then I can assure you your desire to do more will grow. If you do what you can do, God will do what you can't do. The little steps we take are expressions of our faith that moves God to meet us on the road and enable us to take bigger steps.
My spiritual director once told me that even if I don't want to talk to God, I can at least plant my butt down in a chair and tell Him, "God, I don't want to be here, but I'm going to sit here with you, because it's better than not doing anything at all." Often, I've gotten my heart changed in the process. Just a simple act of honesty, a disgruntled confession without any grand acts of contrition, tears of repentance, or hours of Bible-reading, is enough to bring us union with God. It may not be ideal, but at least it's something.
Do something, lest you do nothing.