one step at a time

So often this is my prayer: “Make clear my next step.”

Not my next five steps, ten steps, or next mile.

“Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”

Isaiah 30:21

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

So many different times the Bible tells us our Father will guide us. He will make clear the path before us.

But the Bible never promises He will reveal the whole path to us. That He will show us the destination before we begin our trek.

It just tells us He will guide us as we go.

One of my favorite things in this whole world – aside from Jesus, my family, friends, and donuts – is summiting Colorado 14ers.

I’ll spare you my enormous passion-filled soap box speech about how immaculate and magnificent they are and instead just help you imagine one piece of it.

As most everyone knows, Colorado weather is highly unpredictable. We can go from sunshine, to rain, to snow, and back to sunshine in a matter of an hour. While this can annoy some people, personally I think it adds to the adventure of life and it keeps us humans a little more flexible. That’s the enneagram 7 in me…always wanting more adventure and more fun.

Anyway, at an elevation of 14,000 feet, you often run into afternoon storms, which can be detrimental. Your goal, and plan, is to get up and down as fast as you can before you catch yourself hustling down a slippery slope and seeking shelter. The best way to do this is to get an early start, and best early starts are in the dark.

When you start before sunrise, your path is illuminated about five feet in front of you with your headlamp, so aside from those five feet, you can’t see anything else. You simply follow the guiding light one step at a time trusting it is the way you need to go.

While it has a different and a bit of an uncomfortable feel to it, I always say my time spent climbing in the dark is so sweet because I don’t have the chance to get worked up about what’s coming next. If there is a massive hill to climb, I can’t see how long it goes for or how big it is. Instead, I just take one step at a time slowly gaining mileage and elevation.

Most of the time, whether I’m summiting a 14er or just making my way through life, I have found that seeing too much of the journey at once can be debilitating.

There is one reason our Father doesn’t reveal our whole life to us at once.

He knows we can’t handle it.

If we knew the trials, challenges, obstacles, and tough times we were going to encounter in life, we would panic and find ourselves full of fear or potentially even change courses to try and keep ourselves from those experiences.

Naturally, we want to take the easiest, most painless route.

But if we do that, the destination is disappointing.

We might find ourselves in the wrong relationship because staying in it seemed easier than ending it.

We might find ourselves in a career we have no passion for because fear stopped us from pursuing our calling.

We might find ourselves lonely and isolated because we aren’t willing to give the effort that is required to find community and close-knit friendships.

But the truth is – the easy route doesn’t equal the fruitful route.

Life is better lived in the dark where you can see what’s right in front of you and nothing more.

A five-foot radius around us is about all we need.

Looking back, we can see some of our past, on either side we have access to those closest to us, and in front of us we see the next step we have to take.

Anything more and we would flounder.

We may not know our destination, what trials are coming our way, or exactly what our route is going to look like, but we can trust the light guiding us. 

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Psalm 119:105

When we ask Him, He will always show us the next step.