My daughter and her family recently went to visit my son in Toronto. He had to preach three sermons that week, suffers with insomnia as so many in our family do, and has various counseling situations ongoing. He was regretful that he couldn’t give his sister more time. I listened to him, and responded, “Tim, I believe in the 60% to 70% rule.”
Often, that is about all we have to put into different situations. Not because we are sluggardly or do not take our responsibilities seriously. Because we are human. If you have had three hours of sleep one night rather than seven, your performance the next day – whether academic or social – will suffer. If you have had an inordinate number of people desiring your counsel, your company, one week, your sermon/essay/blogpost will probably reflect that. And so on.
As well, our abilities just fluctuate tremendously. Again, because we are mere humans. One day we perform ‘whatever’ effortlessly, The next day we feel like abject failures in the same area. No one less than Calvin commented on this when he observed that one day he felt he could take on every complexity, the next he was stymied by elementary matters. (Sorry I can’t cite, as read this many, many years ago, I believe in one of his commentaries)
We think of Spurgeon according to his title of the “Prince of Preachers.” And so he was. But, recently, I listened to one of his sermons read on spurgeon.org and was interested in hearing him say that it was not unusual for him to toss and turn after preaching, judging his sermon inadequate. Apparently, though he didn’t call it that, he also believed in the 60-70% rule.
But such is life. How can it be any different?
We are dust, after all. God realizes it. But it is so very difficult for us to accept.
When God uses our efforts, he doesn’t just top up our wonderfulness. He uses what in and of itself is often woefully deficient.
I once had a friend whose father was a well-known theologian. She and her family had gone to spend Christmas with her parents and had decided their hospitality fell well below their expectations. Therefore they wouldn’t ever go for the holidays again. My heart cried out, with the debtors in the gospel, “Be patient with me.” (them) (Mt.18:29)They are old and obviously do not find having little children in their home easy. Accept their 60% with grace!
When we offer God our little 60%-70% tributes he, knowing our frailty, delights in them. And he is perfectly capable of taking those and making them powerful in accomplishing his ends. He is, after all, perfect in power. And if others complain about your 60%-70% ‘offerings’, remind them that, before God, you offer what you have, given the greater context of your life. More-or-less to the best of your ability.
Just as is the case with them.
God knows our situations. He is so very merciful and understanding. Both turtledoves and lambs are acceptable offerings from God’s people.
May we see as he sees. May we be like him.