“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
I keep thinking the hike will be easier. Today felt brutal., even though it is the same path I’ve been taking. Maybe it was the cool air as the sun was already beginning to set. My only goal is still to make it to the top and back down right now. Today’s added goal, make it down before sunset completely because the temperatures drop drastically once the sun goes behind the mountain.
I was only a third of the way up when I got my lesson for the hike, just focus on the next step. I wanted to turn around, but going down the steep side is not something I feel ready for. Instead I kept telling myself, “just take the next step.” As I looked down there were shoe prints all around. Some were going in the same direction, others were not.
I want to be farther along than I am, but I am where I am because too often I have taken the easy way out instead of focusing on the next step ahead of me. I take my eyes off my goal and instead start looking at others around me and the goal they are working towards.
I thought about how often I have fallen into the comparison trap. Even on my hike, I have complained to my husband that he makes it look so easy. He reassures me it is not, but I am focused on what I see, not on what he is telling me. He quickly passes me even given me a ten minutes head start. I am huffing and puffing begging for air, as he barely even is breathing differently. I know I am not him, so I quickly have to reset my thoughts. I also realize in life, I can be quick to think others have it easy, just because I don’t know their personal struggles.
As I look at the shoe prints, I realize many have traveled the same way, but no one is where I am at this moment. Some are behind me. Others are ahead of me. Still others are headed in the other direction. If I don’t focus on my next step, it’s easy to get side tracked with where others are in their journey. I have to remember, it is their journey, not mine. I have to focus on my journey, my next step.
I also realize my stride is different than the prints I see. I might want to follow their path, since I can see they have made it where I want to go. My next step will rarely match someone else’s. My reach may not be as far, or it may be farther. God may be stretching me, but rarely will it be to follow anyone else but Him and the steps He has ordered for me.
My pace may also be slower. I know this is a big difference with me and my spouse. He walks a lot faster than I do. I can’t judge my pace based on someone else, especially not those closest to me. I have to judge my pace on my own energy and effort. As long as I am moving forward, I am working on taking the next step.
The other thing that grabbed my attention is that at times there were no shoe prints to even pretend to follow. The terrain was tougher, sometimes steeper, more rocky. If I was focused on others steps, I could have taken it as a sign to stop. It would be easy to get hung up on not having any path to follow. I know I have in the past.
It doesn’t matter what the journey is that we are on. It could be a spiritual journey, a physical journey or a mental one, it is all the same. We reach our goal by taking the next step before us. It’s not a competition with others. It’s about the journey we are one and the goals we have set. Our steps won’t follow others paths, even when we are on the same road. Our pace is not set by anyone but God and the pace we are at in the moment. Sometimes it may be a sprint other times tiny steps that almost seem nonexistent. Our path is set by God and He is the only one that can get us through the next step.
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