One step at a time

We went hiking this past weekend with my sister and her family.  They live near Chattanooga, Tennessee and have some of the most beautiful places to hike all around them.  I love to explore new places when we go there to visit.  Plus, it’s just a great way to spend time together! ;)

This weekend we went to a place called Lula Lake. It was a beautiful day…the perfect kind of day to get outside and explore a little.  And when they said this place had a big waterfall…well, I was sold. ;)

We've been hiking as a family for about three years now...and the thing I’ve noticed about all of our hiking adventures is that they always require a bit of effort. Often they require some sort of climbing, some amount of sweat, some extra amount of energy.  But there’s really no way around it…you can’t just drive your car to these places to see these great sights…you have to put in the effort, you have to put feet to the path and take one step after another.

But it’s worth it.  It’s always worth it.

This weekend, we basically climbed a mountain.  We climbed deep into the valley to the very base of this big beautiful waterfall…then we had to climb back up, and then up some more to get to the very top, to the peak, where we could see the incredible view from the bluff.

It wasn’t the hardest hike we’ve ever done.  But it wasn’t the easiest either.

About halfway back up after going all the way down to the waterfall, Emma had had enough.  She was tired. The climb was a bit more than she had expected, a bit harder than she wanted.  So she planted her feet and said, “I can’t do it.  I won’t do it. I’m not climbing anymore.”

I tried to encourage her. I knew the top was not very far away…I knew she could do it...she’s done harder climbs before.  But she didn’t believe me.  “No. I can’t. And I won’t.”

Well, she and I both knew that not moving was not an option.  She had to keep going. I knew that. Deep down, she knew that – but at that moment, all she could see was the enormous task ahead of her – and it was too big, too much. So she just stopped.

It took a bit of prodding, and some encouragement from her Aunt Joy, and eventually Emma started moving again.  One step at a time.  Sometimes slowly.  But eventually….we made it!  She did it.  That thing she thought was too hard and too big…she did it!

Inevitably on most of our hikes, there is at least one of us who hits a point where going on just seems to hard.  They want to quit.  They don’t want to go on.  The task ahead seems too large. The distance left ahead seems like too much.  They don’t think they can do it all, so they don’t do anything at all. They just stop.

Sometimes the enormity of what lies ahead overshadows the small task right in front of us – just one small step.

Just take one step.

This journey that God has mapped out for me is quite the adventure. Deep valleys, high mountains, difficult climbs, amazing views.

But how often do I plant my feet in the ground and refuse to go on?  How often do I grumble and complain about the path?  How often do I get overwhelmed by the climb I see ahead of me instead of just focusing on the next step right in front of me?  Whether I’m tired or scared or hurting or overwhelmed, how often do I say “I can’t do it, I won’t do it,” and refuse to take even one step because the whole big thing just seems impossible?  How often do I miss the beauty all around me because I’m too busy worrying about all the things I can’t see or don’t know or don’t like about this path?

How often do I miss the joy of the journey because I don’t trust my Guide?

My dad used to have this old saying that he would repeat to us over and over and over as we were growing up.  I think it's an old Chinese proverb or something, but I heard it so many times, it is forever engrained in my head.  It got to be kind of annoying back then…but I can now appreciate the wisdom in these words:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The journey ahead may seem long – too long.  The mountain in front of you may seem insurmountable.  The steps may be steep and the climb may be hard.  But don’t let the enormity of the journey overwhelm you – don’t stop.  You may not be able to do everything right now – but you can do one thing.  You may not be able to climb the whole mountain today, or even this year – but you can take just one step.  Then take just one more.

And then…just take one step more.

Because every great journey is taken one step at a time.

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Pssst...I've made a little printable of this quote, with three color options, just for you. ;) Simply click the color you would like to print and it will take you to the PDF file which you can then save and print :)  Enjoy!!