When I was in high school I used to play dominos with my brother Charley, my friend Ricky, an older friend nicknamed Buck, and an African-American friend whose nickname was Totsie.
Totsie owned a little cafe in our end-of-the-road village and our domino game was a weekly highlight for awhile. You could probably hear us before you came inside the place because bragging and talking loudly played a vital role in impressing your opponents. When someone had a good domino he would slam it on the table for maximum effect and the others would make appropriate comments.
And there was always plenty of laughter and teasing.
Occasionally, Totsie would study his hand an extra long time before playing, probably wishing for a better solution than the dominos staring back at him. “C’mon Totsie. What are you gonna do?” I never forgot his response.
“I’m gonna do what ‘do’ lets me do!”
That was his colorful way of saying that he was going to do his best with the dominos he had. He usually did, too.
I’ve thought about that a lot in the years since. There have been many times in life that I wished that I had more resources to work with. How I’ve longed to see different situations or wished that I could do other things—maybe even envied others’ opportunities and open doors.
Mope Or Act?
But you know what I’ve learned? You can mope all day long because things aren’t the way you wish they were. That changes nothing. The best thing is to do what “do” lets you do. Take stock of your assets and do what you can with what you have.
I think one of the biggest enemies to accomplishing something in God’s kingdom is “the will of God.” Don’t get me wrong. I try my best to follow God’s will for my life. Things just don’t always happen the way I figured they would. So many “wait on the Lord” and do zilch. Zilch for the Lord anyway.
“God just hasn’t opened a door,” they whine. Look around–there are open doors everywhere! Maybe it’s not doing what you want to do but the opportunity is still there.
I heard a pastor tell of an interview that their oversite committee had with a young, aspiring pastor. The year before the young man had preached only one time. The committee insisted that if they were to continue recognizing him as a preacher in their denomination he was going to have to preach more than that.
“What will you do if we don’t recognize you again as one of our preachers?” the older man asked. “Why, that won’t stop me! I’ll go to the nursing home and preach. I’ll go to the street corner and preach.”
“You’re just lying,” the first pastor retorted.
“You’re just lying. They haven’t moved that street corner or that nursing home have they? It was there all year long but you didn’t go. Why should you go this year?”
Ouch! While we’re looking for God’s will, it’s nice to do what we can do now–what “do” lets us do.
Back in high school, when I played football we had scores of plays we had to learn. And sometimes we would forget what we were supposed to do on a given play.
Coach Mac’s opinion at times like that? “If you don’t know who to block on a play, just knock the daylights out of someone!” (Slightly edited version for publication).
If you can’t do what you want to do for the Lord for the moment, “Do as “do” lets you do.”
I know a young man in Paris. He doesn’t preach but he’s putting a super website online with all sorts of helps for Christians. It has cost him some money and loads of time but he’s “doing as ‘do’ lets him do.” Others get involved in evangelism programs; some reach out to children in their community; others have a burden for older people…there are all sorts of possibilities.
The common denominator between all these people? They’re involved. They may not be doing what they dreamed they would do, or even what they feel called to do, but they are doing what they can with what they have.
Maybe you’re sitting around waiting for more resources, better opportunities, or for that thing that the Lord “called” you to do, to open up. All that is good, but while you’re waiting, look around at all these needs, all these opportunities crying for a compassionate touch.
Then, do as “do” lets you do.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecc. 9:10, NIV) or as the Message version says, “Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!”
“He promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into the future. We do not need to know what will happen tomorrow. We only need to know he leads us and ‘we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Max Lucado, Traveling Light)