a single thing

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philipppians 1:6).
A few days ago, I wrote a post—a few rambling words brought about because of a single picture that spoke a single word to my spirit. Peace.

If truth be known (and really what profit is there in pretending), I didn’t want to write anything. My pen has grown weary in recent days. In fact, a certain fear crept over me last week, albeit momentary, that, perhaps, for the first time in a long time, I had nothing to say… nothing worthy to write. I’ve heard of writer’s block before, but I’ve never experienced it. Even typing that feels strange, almost ominous, almost as if by speaking it aloud, it might come on in full measure after hitting the “publish” button to this post. If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it a dozen times…

For as long as God allows the ink, I’ll keep penning my heart for him. And so, despite my feelings regarding an empty computer screen and with ample tears to go alongside, in obedience I began to type and pray. Pray and type, all the while asking the Lord to just use it as he would… if he would. Apparently, he has, and that, my friends, is no credit to me. It’s a credit to him.

God honors our obedience to use our gifts, most days in spite of us. We can choose our “no’s”—decline his offer of kingdom investment into the lives of others—but our “no’s” do nothing to further his agenda. Certainly there are seasons when our weariness and worn-out status diminish our effectiveness. We must heed those prompts of needful restoration. But even then, God will always use our willingness when our willingness concedes the struggle to his hands over ours… when we get to the end of ourselves and simply say, “If you will, Lord, use me once more in this single thing.”

A single thing.

We never know when ours will make an impact… our single thing—our one act of obedience, chosen freely despite feelings, emotions, and wills that sometime lead us to consider another direction. Instead of choosing self, we choose a single thing that extends influence beyond personal gratification—that changes the direction in someone else’s life, albeit seemingly small and immeasurable. We…

Bake some bread.
Pen a card.
Visit the sick.
Send a gift.
Run the carpool line.
Make a call.
Share a ride.
Hug a neck.
Speak a word.
Write a check.
Answer an E-mail.
Say a prayer.
Lend a hand.
Offer some time.
Share a smile.
Voice some truth.
Do some chores.
Live some love.
Give some Jesus.

Single things, when gathered and collected, become a big thing in the lives of those who stand on the receiving end. We’ve all been the recipients of single things; time and again our need has dictated their arrival. If we were to chronicle those single things—perhaps even the ones that have been lavishly bestowed upon us over the past week—then we would begin to understand the length that our Father’s love is willing to travel in order for us to have a more perfect life.

He’s working it all out, friends, in a way that exceeds comprehension, and he’s using us as his conduits of sacred dispensation. He’s taking the single things of our single days and weaving them into a tapestry that radiates with kingdom color and creativity. Rarely are we aware of his workings as they unfold, for we are a people easily distracted by temporal details and frustrations. God’s goodness continues in its liberality within our day-to-days, but without pause in our spirits to receive his invitation of sacred participation or to receive his goodness as it arrives, we come to the end of our days barely aware of his entrance and intervention on our behalf.

This week you will stand on both sides of God’s equation for goodness; you will receive it in abundance as well as be called upon in some capacity to add to someone else’s. Your obedience with your single thing will bring color to God’s bigger thing—a portrait that collectively gathers grace upon grace to paint a masterpiece worthy of the throne room of heaven. You may think that your single thing doesn’t matter, is too small and too inferior to make a difference. But your obedience to that single thing may just be the one thing that shifts the eternal foundation of someone’s forever.

Don’t underestimate your single thing, friends. Don’t diminish your obedience to use the gifts that God has generously seeded within your heart for kingdom progress. He who began a good work in you is faithful to bring it to completion. Not just for your sake, but more importantly, for his.

Keep to your single thing; keep yielding your heart in obedience as the Spirit prompts, and see if he is not faithful to make it all count! These are good days to be serving alongside of you in continuing faithfulness. Let us march the steps of our spiritual ancestors, believing God for far more than the eye can see, mind can conceive, and heart can imagine. I love you. As always…

peace for the journey,

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Copyright © February 2010 – Elaine Olsen

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36 Responses to a single thing

  1. Since studying the book of Esther, I've been trying to figure out my overall mission in life–what is my purpose supposed to be? Thanks for this word about the "single thing". I do single things pretty much every day, and so until God reveals some major purpose to me, I will continue to do single things.

  2. Hi Elaine. As I read your post…the Lord put in my heart, tell her to read the story of the widow with a mite. Speak for Him, my friend in and out of season. The past week was my 'out of season' moment by I entrusted Him with my pen and I know He is faithful. I will keep you uplifted in prayer.



  3. "Your obedience with your single thing will bring color to God’s bigger thing …".

    That says it all! It's about obedience, but oh-so-much more. There's a grander design, a larger picture to be seen – – perhaps not until we reach heaven.

    I'm so glad you didn't turn in your pen (the one He put in your hand). What would you pick up in it's place?

    Keep speaking your heart, girl. I'm listening.


  4. I have some single things on my heart to do. Thanks for the reminder I have not a clue as to how God will color them. I am confident He will make them beautiful in their time. Maybe you are in a stop, look, and listen time. I have read two devotionals with that message today. Starting to get the hint. Turtle girls are slow. smiles! B

  5. Thanks for this, Elaine. I'm heading out to "do" my day now. Praying God will keep my eyes open for the single things He has for me to do.
    You are a blessing!


  6. "A single thing" I offer on behalf of many goes unseen, yet not unknown by my God…nor unanswered.

    There are miracles to be found in the simple act of a single thing.

    Forever thankful to the Lord for the "single thing" of an invitation you extended to me almost two years ago now…who knew? Well…God. 🙂


  7. Let us believe these truths and obey God. My daughter, a single mom in the next state over, is hurting because her husband walked out on her. But when those emails come her way with a scripture or testimony that someone forwards, she feels loved and not so alone.

  8. one thing we should never be able to
    say at the end of the day is "i didn't do
    a single thing today!"

    great post. thank you.


  9. loved this and really needed to hear the words today. Thank you!

    In fact I may hav eto come and reread it later…

  10. So true, Elaine. Sometimes the tiniest gesture on our parts can make the world of difference for someone else. And how thankful I am that "God honors our obedience to use our gifts, most days in spite of us." I'm forever thankful that He uses me in spite of my weakenesses…

    Blessings to you this week!

  11. Sometimes it is the simple writing that speaks the loudest. Never underestimate the power of God's ink in your pen!

  12. a partial quote:
    "…my soul wholly resigned to thy divinest will and pleasure, never murmuring at thy gentle chastisements/fatherly correction, never waxing proud and insolent though I feel a torrent of comforts and prosperous successes"…. Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

    single things…one @ a time gathered together become his abundance with our brothers and sisters in Christ (so we must never feel we must do it all)

  13. I just love that reminder! Lately I have been so overwhelmed by the big things that I've had a hard time starting the little things. Sometimes just doing one little thing can make everything else seem more manageable.

  14. awesome. I just love how God uses you in MY life. I love the words you penned through Him.

    You bless me,

  15. Elaine,

    This is beautiful and extremely encouraging! Too often I try to do too much … and forget about the beauty and joy of simplicity. I don't have to do EVERYTHING for someone … but I can do one thing! Thank you for this post!


  16. Your words below speak my hearts expressions:

    "Don’t underestimate your single thing, friends. Don’t diminish your obedience to use the gifts that God has generously seeded within your heart for kingdom progress. He who began a good work in you is faithful to bring it to completion. Not just for your sake, but more importantly, for his."

    Love you and thank you for sharing your single thing and powerful thing with us today!

  17. Well Elaine, if you had a writer's block, it sure ended before this posting was finished! Let this post today encourage your own heart, as it has mine!
    God holds your pen, no question about it!
    I'm still praying for the last 15,000 words, and they're coming!

    Love you,


  18. Wow, how I needed to read these words this night. Weary, worn out and tired yet reminded that it is not for naught. Thank you sweet sister for being obedient to your single thing. You are a blessing.

  19. Some days the Lord has to pry us out of His own arms and say, "Go feed my sheep today."
    Or "Invest in this one's life today"… those are the days when the words He has poured into our hearts and our pens step off the page and set foot into ACTION!

    Bless you for yet both!!!

    {{HUGS}} Stephanie

  20. I do believe God gave you this post just for me! 🙂 I so needed this encouragement today, Elaine! Thank you!

  21. Elaine, yesterday we buried my father. It was spoken over and over again about how we loved doing the "single things" in his life. He never knew a stranger, and he was always trying to help everyone he met. From the young woman whose boyfriend was abusing her in a parking lot and my dad stepped in and offered her safety, to the young woman with many children working at a gas station who had no food to feed her family. My dad made sure she had more than enough to feed them, at least for a while.

    It is those "single things" that make a difference in the life of those around us. We may never know the impact here on earth, but I am sure my dad's crown in glory is full of sparkling gems. I can only hope to be the type of person my dad was in that regard. Sometimes, my weariness gets the better of me. But if I learned any lesson from him, no matter how tired, how much pain, etc., we are in, we are called to show the love of Christ to everyone we meet and share the Gospel message through our actions.

    Keep writing my friend. You are touching so many people! Love you!


  22. Oh, how badly I needed that today, Elaine! How your words were a treasure to me. God bless you–keep writing!

  23. One + one + one … These single things add up and multiply, and make this Body of Christ a moving, acting, living, breathing Being.

    Oh, Elaine … your writing moves me. I'm so glad God continues to give you these single things — these words to tap out on the screen. I've been in my own season of wondering: What's next? What do I write? Should I even bother?

    But it's all in the single thing. I can do the single thing. He still has me doing the single thing.

    This post means a great deal to me. God is speaking to me through you. (((HUGS))))

  24. Thank you Elaine for your uplifting words. Thank you for reminding me my single things are important to God. I needed this today!

    until next time… nel

  25. Wow, Elaine. For starting out with not much to say, you have said a treasure of things! I love that list…

  26. Sometimes… for me… when I have nothing to write… then God has something to say.

    Thank you for saying the one thing. Blessings to you!

  27. what an encouraging post. If we all do the single thing that God has given us to do, just think what big things we could all accomplish together in the body of Christ. Thanks for this Elaine! 🙂

  28. Hi Elaine. My, you have grown since last I was here! I love the new design. I loved this post. I've had an extended period of "I don't have anything to say." The dam seems to be breaking, so I'm back to making the blog rounds. It is good to find you thriving so!

  29. Love this idea about the single thing we can do to bless others. It reminds me of Joanna Weaver's exhortation in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Just do the next thing. Sometimes when all the options of what I could do next overwhelm me, that thought helps me. What's the next thing, Lord? Thanks for this post.

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