Inch By Inch...Ain't A Cinch!

All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
— Proverbs 14:23 NIV

Whoever said, "Inch by inch, life's a cinch" probably didn't get very far. Even little steps can be painful. I see this working on my old Cutlass or preparing a sermon for Sunday. Great achievements take great work.

Mr. Longfellow would add his "Amen" to that last line.

The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I resonate with Longfellow. His message is biblical. It is one I see often in Proverbs:

Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
— Proverbs 13:11 NIV

There it is, "little by little," the biblical equivalent of "inch by inch." Yes, progress comes slowly, but there is nothing that says "it's a cinch." Quite the contrary, the message of Proverbs is that progress will be messy, stinky, and downright hard at times:

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
— Proverbs 14:4

God says, “If you want food on the table, you’ve got to muck the stall.” Inch by inch or yard by yard – worthy efforts take hard work.

  • Saving money is hard work.
  • Earning a college degree is hard work.
  • Teaching school is hard work.
  • Carrying and bearing a child is hard work.
  • Battling addiction is hard work.
  • Recovering from an injury is hard work.
  • Praying is hard work.
  • Turning a dream into reality is hard work.

Awhile back I read My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. Mr. Conroy, who died in 2016, was a New York Times best-selling author. Two of his books, The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, became Oscar-nominated films. Conroy’s prose seems effortless. It is exquisite and picturesque. Certainly he’s “a natural.” Actually . . . no! Here is how he describes it:

  • “Good writing is one of the forms that hard labor takes”
  • “To me, the writing life requires the tireless discipline of the ironclad routine.”
  • “Good writing is the hardest form of thinking. It involves the agony of turning profoundly difficult thoughts into lucid form, then forcing them into the tight-fitting uniform of language, making them visible and clear."

Great achievements take hard work!

If you’ve got a goal, God has a strategy: “Little by little.” But don’t expect it to be easy. Yes, God is good. Yes, God helps us. But inch by inch is not a cinch.

Where do you need to work a little harder today?