Sometimes small steps are better than big ones

We live in a just-add-water society. We don’t have to wait for anything. All we have to do is buy it, dump some water in, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes, and you’re done. You don’t have to wait in line for movie tickets. You can buy them online.

Our world is so full of conveniences that sometimes we forget what it’s like to wait. And don’t get me wrong. I love my instant oatmeal in the mornings and my online shopping habit (the less I have to talk to people, the better), but one of the downsides of our instant gratification culture is that we forget how important it is to learn how to take things one step at a time.

Stone steps of Temple IV at the Mayan Ruins, Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Stone steps of Temple IV at the Mayan Ruins, Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Psalm 37:23.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.

I don’t know of a verse in the Bible that directs us to take small steps, but the Bible is full of concepts about it. Esther taking small steps in God’s plan to become Queen. God leading the Israelites on a day-by-day basis through the wilderness. Taking life one step at a time is a biblical concept that we all need to wrap our heads around.

I don’t like waiting. At all. For anything. If I have a big bill, I pay it all at once, no matter how much it stretches me. If I have a book to read, I like to read it all in one sitting. Same with television shows. I don’t like waiting between episodes, so I wait until the show is all over and buy the DVD set and marathon it.

But life doesn’t always work out that way. Many times we aren’t financially able to make a big payment all at once and we have to chip away at it in bite-size pieces. And not everyone has the time or the attention span to take a weekend and watch an entire television series in one sitting. And sometimes, it’s not the wise thing to do to finish an entire project all at once. Sometimes the wiser path is taking small steps.

Trying to accomplish a massive task in one day just isn’t feasible, and if you consistently set impossible goals for yourself, eventually you’ll learn to stop trying because you never succeed.

If you would have told me four years ago that I would blog almost every Monday-through-Friday morning about a Bible verse at 6:30 in the morning, I would have told you that you were loony. Four years ago, I thought that was impossible. Well, it’s been four years, and I’m still going. But I didn’t start out with the intention of blogging for four years, self-publishing two books, and attracting around 500 followers on WordPress and Facebook. I just set out to write down my thoughts about a Bible verse for that day, and I kept doing it every morning.

I’m always talking about focusing on the big picture, and that’s important. But sometimes it’s more important to focus on the next step instead. Oftentimes the big picture will blow our minds. It’ll just be too big for us, and we’ll give up before we’ve even gotten started.

If we want to succeed, maybe we should start out focusing on what we have to do today instead of what we need to accomplish four years down the road.

Having trouble staying on a diet? Don’t worry about losing 50 pounds. Focus on what you need to do to lose one pound this week. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up. After a year, you’ll have lost 52 pounds.

Struggling with daily Bible reading? Don’t worry about getting a whole book or chapter read in the morning or in the evening. Just start with one verse a day. If you read one verse a day, every day for a whole year, you could almost finish the books of Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians!

If a task seems insurmountable or if your goals seem unreachable, don’t give up. Just divide them into smaller pieces, and take them one at a time. You’ll make progress. It’ll be slow, but every 1,000-mile journey starts with the first step. And you can’t get to the last step without taking the second and then the third and then the fourth and so on.

The big picture matters, yes. Never lose sight of that. But for today, focus on your next step. It doesn’t have to be huge or earth shattering. It’s just needs to be in the right direction.