Points to Ponder In His Steps
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
Our daughter Elizabeth is almost four years old. When we walk together, she likes to be in front. In fact she insists on it, as she butts her way ahead of me and almost causes me to trip over her.
During the recent snowstorm of over two feet accumulation, she was ready to “go to work” with me. The back yard of our parsonage meets the back walkway to the church, so it is a short distance; but in snow, it is a long hike. With her snow pants, boots, Zoe coat, and mittens, this little pink person trudged and struggled step by step to wade through snow up to her hips. It took a lot of energy for her to pick up one little leg and plant it in the untouched snow; then the next one, extricating it from its place and stepping forward. One after another, she was grunting and working hard against the all encompassing obstacle in the path. It is perhaps a 100-125 foot walk through the yard, out the gate, behind the church, and finally to the back door (we call it the “secret door”, because only we use it); but after pumping those little legs and falling on her backside twice, she had lost all hope of making it. We could see the back door just ahead, but there was nothing but hundreds of pounds of snow between where we were and our destination.
I suggested she let me get in front. I told her to put her feet in my boot prints as I walked ahead. Then she would be able to master the challenge of the snow. As if the Lord was saying to me, “Look at that,” I watched behind me as she carefully followed. Get the picture? Every step I took was followed by her watching my step, then stepping into that place with her own foot. The destination lay ahead, but we got there one step at a time. She found it to be impossible when she was out front and in charge of her own walk; but when she allowed her father to get in front and guide her, step by step, she could do three things.
First, she could handle the obstacle and the challenge that, on her own, was too overwhelming. Secondly, she was able to make it to the destination that just moments before seemed beyond reach. Thirdly, she learned to trust in the one who loves her and directs the path she ought to take.
It was a good illustration of how we ought to trust our Heavenly Father. His word is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). Our prayer should be, “make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it,” (Psalm 119:35) and “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” (v.133)
We follow the Lord step by step. We must allow Him to go in front of us. Though the goal is up ahead, and we may even be able to see it, we must focus on the step before us. What is God’s will and direction for me at this moment, on this particular day? None of us can live any other day except TODAY NOW. Yesterday is gone; all we can keep from it are the lessons we learned. Tomorrow is beyond us and there is no guarantee that we will live to see it. So today is it. Where is God directing you right now?
How many of us ask God to bless our day, our plans, our ideas, and our visions? We want to put ourselves out front and have Him bless us in (or rescue us from) the path we have taken. It is best to find out where God is moving, where His Spirit is leading. Watch His steps and then follow Him where He says to go.
Will the obstacles be removed? Will the set backs and disappointments go away? Not necessarily. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19a), and following the Lord’s way may be the hardest thing you have ever done. Yet, the Psalmist says, the Lord delivers us. (v.19b)
Step by step is the only way we will get anywhere. The question is - where do you want to go? Then, when you reach the end of your days and look back on the path you have chosen, will you see a zigzag trail of only your stumbling footprints, or will you see the steps of God, confident and sure, with your smaller print within His? I have often thought that the worst thing to realize later in life is that I did it my way and it turned out to be the wrong way. I want God’s best for my short life on earth; and that means I must commit myself daily to giving my best for Him. That can only be done by putting my best foot forward, step by step, as He leads.
“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 NIV)
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.