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.

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Stone steps on the grounds at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

If not for Christ

Do you ever slow down long enough to think about where you came from? I don’t do it as often as I should, but a comment a friend of mine made in conversation the other day forced my crazy feet to stop running and my brain to jar to a halt. He was saying that if He hadn’t come to know Christ, he would never have met many of the people in his life.

I’d never thought of it that way, and that drew me up short. Because I can’t imagine the last 15 or so years without this guy and his amazing family. What would my life have looked like without Christ? Where would I be if I hadn’t chosen to do things God’s way?

It would look a whole lot different than it does now, that’s for sure. And it would be full of different people. Probably different experiences but none of them satisfying or ultimately fulfilling. That’s the part the world leaves out when it talks about having fun and breaking rules when you’re young.

I just got to thinking about how often I just stop and thank God for what He’s done in my life, for the people He’s brought in my life, for the experiences and the adventures I’ve gotten to have.

Where were you 20 years ago? 10 years ago? 5 years ago? How many of us are living a completely different life now than we were then? How many of us have learned just how infinite God’s love is? And how often do we stop to wonder at the road He’s brought us down?

Stone steps on the grounds at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Stone steps on the grounds at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Psalm 37:23.

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

I didn’t expect to be here 20 years ago. 20 years ago, I thought 20 years sounded like an eternity away. I thought 30 sounded ancient…. let alone 32.

I could never have known the amazing adventures I would have. I could never have prepared myself as a 10 year old child for the incredible things I would see, for the awesome people I would meet, for the truly miraculous experiences I would witness.  You can’t plan for that when you’re 10. You can’t even really fully grasp the use of homework when you’re 10.

But God knew.  He knew where I needed to be. He knew the people I needed to meet and the things I needed to experience to help me grow to be the person I am today. I didn’t understand it then, but now with so many years past, I can look back and see His hand all over my life.

What about you? Who do you have in your life right now who you wouldn’t have met if not for Christ? Have you ever stopped to consider what your life would have been like?

I don’t stop long enough to think about things like that, and I should because it makes me remember just how blessed I am. It makes me remember what I owe God. I owe Him everything because without Him I wouldn’t have hope, I wouldn’t have life, and I wouldn’t have love. And, beyond that, I wouldn’t be surrounded with so many amazing, uplifting, and encouraging people who I am so fortunate to call family.

Sometime today, take a moment and just stop. Let yourself think about what your life would look like without Christ. We all started in different places. Some started off bad. Others started off good. But I’d be willing to bet that if you’ve followed Christ for any length of time, you’re in a better place now than you were before.

Don’t take that for granted. Don’t let that pass without taking a moment to acknowledge it. It’ll change the way you see your life, your friends, your family because if God has a reason for everything He’s doing, if He really does direct our steps, then He knows what’s coming tomorrow. And that trouble and stress and heartache you’re facing today is just a stepping stone to something better tomorrow.

Stone steps along Hadrian's Wall, Northern England

Life has no coincidences

 

I was marveling yesterday how events in my life (and in the lives of others) have truly unfolded in the best way possible. No, not everything that has happened has been good in the traditional definition of good. But what has taken place in our lives seems to have happened at just the right moment, like a puzzle piece snapping into place.

Is that just a coincidence? Coincidence is based on random chance, and maybe there are times when random chance sounds appealing, but I find more comfort in the concept of intentional design.

Stone steps along Hadrian's Wall, Northern England

Stone steps along Hadrian’s Wall, Northern England

Today’s verse is Psalm 37:23.

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

When my brother and I were in England visiting the other half of my brain, we got the chance to go to Hadrian’s Wall. If you’re a Roman history buff or a history buff in general, you’ll know what it is. If you aren’t, well, it’s a long stone wall in northern England that’s really old. My friend had a coworker who doubled as a wall warden up there, so he took us along the wall and explained the history behind it and so on and so forth. All along the wall there was a path that stretched out before us. Sometimes it was straight. Other times it went crooked. Most of the time it went up very steeply. We didn’t have to stay on the path, but honestly along those treacherous rises and fells and steep drops, the path was the best place to be.

I think God’s plan often looks like a difficult and challenge path laid out before us. God has a plan for all of us, and if you’re a Christ-follower He’s working everything out in our lives for our good and His glory. Only God is big enough to take the scattered, senseless, chaotic bits of our lives and weave them into a beautiful tapestry.

It’s easy for me to forget sometimes how carefully He has designed my life. Down to the last split second of every moment I live, He knows everything that’s going to happen to me and everything I need. And if I don’t have what I need before I reach those parts of my life, He will supply them. By the time I reach the decisions points in my life, God will have given me everything I need to not only survive but to thrive.

Things don’t just happen in our lives for no reason. No, they’re not always good. Sometimes they’re bad. Sometimes they’re great and wonderful, and in those moments we need to rejoice and thank God for giving us a situation that worked out. But in the times that aren’t so good, we need to rejoice and thank God that He’s got a plan.

If you’re a Christ-follower, God has ordered your steps. He knows where you’re going, and He knows what you will need along the way. And He’s big enough to orchestrate events in your life to help prepare you for what’s coming.

It’s your choice whether to stay on the path He’s laid out or not. That’s entirely up to you. And even if you get off the path, you can still get back on, but ask yourself what it may cost you if you do before you choose.

The path God has laid out for us may not be easy. On the contrary, it may be really hard, really challenging, but He doesn’t ever do anything without a reason. And that means we’ll learn something along the way that we’ll need later on. We won’t have to walk the path alone either; He’ll be there every step of the way.

Stone steps at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

How getting stuck in the Cincinnati airport is kind of like life

Well … I anticipated that I would be posting from Newark, New Jersey, this morning. But those plans didn’t exactly pan out. Due to some mechanical troubles, we are still in Cincinnati, stuck in the airport trying to find a flight out. The battery in my laptop is limited, so I have to be brief.

Stone steps at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Stone steps at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Psalm 37:23.

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

This is the only verse that came to mind this morning. It’s good to remember that God is in control, especially in circumstances that are too big for us to understand. But it can be frustrating at times because we really think we need (and want) to know every step of the journey at the very beginning. But if we honestly knew everything that God planned for us to experience in our lives up front, I think we might die of fright.

God knows the paths that we’re going to take. And He knows what all those roads look like and He knows what we will need to go through to learn what He wants to teach us.

Our eventual destination today is Miami. The only flight that was available for us had to go through New Jersey. New Jersey! What the heck? But to get to Miami, that was the only way we could go. Now … well, who knows how we’re going to get down there. But I’m sure United knows best.

It’s the same with God. He may take us down some roads that don’t make sense to us. He may lead us in a direction that seems completely opposite to what we thought He wanted us to accomplish with our lives. But we have to trust Him. And if we do, He’ll work everything out. And not only will we arrive at our destination safely, we’ll get there with more than we had when we left.

Unlike United. Which will probably lose our baggage en route.