Several summers ago I began to walk longer and longer distances with my dogs. I started out walking one mile, then two mile, then five…At that point, my husband said, “See how far you can walk. Walk as far as you can and I will pick you up when you get tired.” So I walked to my church (at the time) which was 9.1 miles from home, and then I walked to the next town which was about 10 miles, and then I walked 6 miles out and turned around and walked home, for a total of 12 miles.
I learned a few things as I walked that summer:
First of all, I found that I had to have a goal to reach. If I didn’t, then I’d turn around as soon as I got a little tired. If I set a goal, however, I’d keep walking no matter how hot or tired I became or how much my legs ached.
Second, sometimes my goal seemed too far away. When I thought I couldn’t make the goal, then I concentrated on only making the next step. I knew that I could ALWAYS walk one more step and one more step, and if I walked enough steps, I’d reach my goal. So I realized that I needed BOTH a long-term goal AND a short-term goal.
Third, Some mornings I woke with the mindset that I couldn’t do it. On those mornings, I didn’t try because I learned that I couldn’t proceed unless I had the commitment to walk no matter what. I had to recognize that I WOULD get tired, and to refuse to quit before I even started on the day’s journey.
Fourth, I had friends who were interested in my journey. Sometimes I called them on my cellphone as I walked, and they encouraged me to continue. I also had EJ and JJ, who gave me much help. They even helped by NOT helping. When I tried to walk to the church, 9.1 miles away, I got so hot and tired that I asked EJ to come pick me up. He told me he would…but he didn’t. He knew I wanted to make it the full distance. After I called him, I kept walking, telling myself he was coming to pick me up, but he didn’t come, and he didn’t come. I started muttering, “Why isn’t he coming? WHERE IS HE?” But as I walked, I got closer to my goal, and after awhile I started saying to myself, “Oh, I’m almost there! I hope he doesn’t come pick me up! I’m almost there!” And I MADE it the whole way!
These things all apply in my spiritual walk as well:
First, I need to have a goal to reach: My Goal is to be like Christ. My goal is an intimate relationship with Him. My goal is Heaven. If I don’t have these goals, I will quit whenever life gets difficult.
Second, sometimes being like Christ seems like an impossibility. Sometimes Heaven is so far in the distance that it seems unreal. Sometimes life is so difficult that I am not sure I will survive the next day. I need a short-term goal as well as a long-term goal. So I focus on trusting Christ TODAY, or trusting Him for the next HOUR, or trusting Him for this MOMENT. Life is made up of seconds, hours, days, weeks, months and years. If I trust Christ for THIS moment, and THIS moment, and THIS moment, eventually I will be trusting Him for hours, weeks, days, weeks, months…for a lifetime!
Third, I realized that I need to recognize that life is difficult, and there will be times of suffering and sacrifice. I must set my mind to NOT GIVE UP. I need to commit to making the journey, no matter how difficult it might get. Oh, I may stumble and fall at times, I might get discouraged, but if I can set my mind NOW, I will be less likely to give up later.
Fourth, sometimes life gets so difficult that I think I can’t manage anymore. But God has given me many people to encourage me along the way. I’ve learned that none of us can make it alone. When I pray “Help me, God!” He sends exactly the help (or non-help) that I need.
That is what I learned the summer I walked.