We often encourage one another when beginning and/or continuing projects to take things “a step at a time.” What we mean, of course, is that some tasks are simply to big for us to (humanly, anyway) tackle in a short amount of time and will therefore require several segments of dedicated time over many days, weeks, months, and sometimes years.
Another aspect is the encouragement found in Psalm 119:105 – God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet, and a light to our path, and also that our Lord will provide sufficient grace for today. (Matthew 6:34, 2 Corinthians 12:9) From these passages, we can gather the truth that, as we meditate on and delight in the inspired and inerrant Word of God, we will be directed by the Holy Spirit to take the “next step” of our lives, and that His grace will be with us in every dark time through which we must pass.
But how big is a “step?”
I know that when I have a daunting task, it only makes logical sense to work toward the goal in small increments of improvement or accomplishment. If I have a hundred miles to walk, I can’t cross the finish line in a day, or a week, or in two weeks, unless I drop all else and make walking my #1 priority. But what goes into walking a hundred miles, anyway (we’ve already considered the time factor). It’s kind of obvious, really, but at the same time, it isn’t. It’s a case of not being able to see the forest through the trees, if you will. The answer? Steps. Lots of steps. Lots of little, tiny, probably-less-than-two-and-a-half-feet-long steps. Now for a math lesson.
There are 5280 feet in a mile. Multiply by 100 miles. That’s 528,000 feet. Don’t panic yet; that’s not our final answer. And just in case you hadn’t noticed, that’s more than half a million feet. Exhausting. Now let’s divide that by 2.5, since we are assuming that a “step” is 2.5 feet in length. Relief! Only 211,200 steps to take. This should be easy; not even a quarter of a million steps. No problem.
Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. This could get old fast if you dwell on the written form for too long. Even if I only wrote until Step 22 you’d probably stop reading and turn off your computer. But this is a reality. A step is not a quarter of a mile. A step isn’t even tenth of a mile, or a twentieth. It’s just a step. That’s all.
I’ve had quite the time of it, the past two and a half years. A massive road to walk that would require head-aching, skull-stretching, mind-boggling study, experimentation, and work. To me, it was like trying to walk 1000 miles. And to make things worse, the tools I needed to have in proper working order kept malfunctioning. (Imagine if you broke both of your legs on Step 2.)
The grace of the Lord has been so evident in the past week or so. I decided, after a long time of broken-leg-healing, if you will, to try it again. To get back in the saddle. To take my walking sticks in hand and start walking. Just one step, I told myself. I prayed for grace and re-surrendered my life, time, and talents. I determined to stay at it for one hour that first day. That should be almost long enough, if not quite, for 1 or 2 baby steps, I reasoned. I next determined to set boundaries on my stopping time. I couldn’t wimp out and give it a half-hearted effort, but nor could I reinjure my “legs.” They’re still healing, don’t forget.
God’s grace has been amazing to experience. I’ve “walked” 11 Steps! Oh, to be sure, that’s only 27.5 feet – a far cry from even a quarter of a mile (which is, by the way, 1320 feet). But 11 Steps. It’s progress. It resembles the tiny, invisible growth of a seedling. It’s the beginning of the change wrought in the landscape with the passing of seasons. It’s almost imperceptible. But it’s there. It may feel like the step from a fishing boat onto a stormy sea. But there’s a Master waiting to walk with you in your Step of Faith. And that makes all the difference.