I don’t know about anyone else, but I used to try to trust God for my WHOLE life, all at once. I’d think of various trials and sufferings and “what ifs,” such as “What is JJ got killed? How would I survive?” Or “What if EJ lost his job?” Or “What if I got cancer?” You know, that sort of thing. I didn’t know if my faith would be strong enough to survive those terrible things. But gradually God taught me that I don’t really need to worry about trusting Him for my WHOLE life, I just have to trust Him through NOW. No matter how bad or scary circumstances got, I could always manage to trust Him for today. And if today is too long a time, I can trust Him for the next hour. And if I can’t manage to trust Him for an hour, I can trust Him for the next five minutes. If five minutes is too long, I can trust Him for THIS MOMENT. If I trust Him this moment, and this moment, and this moment, soon I will be trusting Him for five minutes, and an hour, and a day, and a life-time. Because that’s all life is: a series of moments and steps.
Here is a true story that happened to me when I was 19 years old that illustrates this. This incident first taught me about setting little goals when big goals seem too big. All my life God kept reminding me of this story, and eventually I really understood about trusting Him one moment at a time:
When I was 19 years old, my family went to the sand dunes along Lake Michigan. At that time, only my younger sister and I were still living at home. We camped at Silver Beach Campground. After we settled in, we heard that Lake Michigan was only three miles across the sand dunes from our campground. Three miles didn’t sound too far to walk, my sister and I decided to walk to the Lake. Well, we discovered that three miles is a LONG journey when you are walking in sandals across mountains of hot sand on a hot day. We’d climb to the top of one mountainous dune expecting to see the glimmer of Lake Michigan, only to find another mountain of sand. We’d climb the next dune expecting to see the Lake, only to find yet another large dune. It wasn’t long before my sister was complaining that she wanted to turn back. I talked her into continuing on because I felt that if we quit, we’d have gone all that way for nothing, and we’d return to our campground hot, dusty, thirsty, and defeated. If we continued on, we’d have the satisfaction of reaching our goal and the cool refreshment of diving into Lake Michigan. My sister went on a little further, but her complaints became more frequent and finally she declared that she was TURNING BACK. We stood and argued for awhile. Suddenly, I got a BRILLIANT idea. I asked my sister to hand me one of her sandals. She asked why, but I didn’t tell her; I just told her to trust me, and finally she gave me her shoe. I also took off one of my sandals, and I threw both as far as I could (which wasn’t very far) up the dune. My sister screeched, “Why did you do THAT???” I said, “We now have a choice to make. We can either climb up the dune and get our sandals or turn back toward camp and each lose a shoe.” We scrambled up the sand and got our shoes. “Now, throw your shoe again!” I urged. My sister was beginning to understand. We both threw our shoes up the sand dune, and laughed as we climbed up to retrieve them again. We threw them again, and scrambled up after them. We kept throwing our shoes until we covered the distance to Lake Michigan. We plunged into the cool, refreshing water and frolicked for awhile before we went back to our campground.
Why did we throw our shoes? Because Lake Michigan felt too far away to reach. However, throwing our shoes just beyond our reach and retrieving them was a much more attainable goal. I learned from this that when the journey seems too long, and the goal too unattainable, THROW YOUR SHOE! Shorten your goal. Concentrate on making it one more step, one more minute. This applies to climbing sand dunes to reach Lake Michigan, walking long distances, or to trusting God through difficulties.
“Throwing the shoe” has become my family’s saying for setting small goals in order to reach a greater goal.