In preparation for a writer’s conference at the end of this February, I will be posting some of your favorite blogs and some of mine. Today’s blog, Looking Down, is a revised version of One Step at a Time. Please enjoy the truths God still speaks into my heart.
I like to run. In reality, it’s more about the way I feel after a run than the actual process. After a few years from the sport, I am working my way back. The process is slow, painful—tedious. Exhaustion takes over. Tired, my breath tightens in my ribs. When I have too far to go and just want to quit, only one action keeps me going. I look down.
While not proper form, looking down at the asphalt just beneath my feet makes the pain in my muscles seem more bearable. I feel as if I can get to my halleluiah-I’m-done destination before someone finds me collapsed on the roadside.
I know for the most part this is all in my head; nevertheless, when I look down I feel in my bones I can make it to the end of my run. If I look up and see the great a distance I have left or how steep the hill is, I almost always quit.
Sometimes during the painful trials of life, it just hurts too much to look ahead. When even breathing is painful, we survive only one step at a time. People experience trials in life each and every day. While my struggles may seem particularly difficult to some, they only pale in comparison to others.
But I have learned, Pain is pain. Tears are tears. Trials are trials. My dear friend Stacee taught me this. Her husband was deployed overseas with the National Guard and she had two small children at home. I was going through a dark time of depression in my life but it seemed a microscopic problem compared to the one she faced each day. When I finally confided in her, I will never forget the response. She said, “Heather, your hurt is still hurt. My situation doesn’t make you hurt any less.”
All of us hurt. All of us struggle. And sometimes all of us need to look down.
Because when we look down, we see His feet matching our pace. His feet—running beside us. Step by step, cheering us on toward the halleluiah-I’m-done end.
Jesus wants me to focus only the asphalt beneath my feet when I am in the depths of my sadness. There are moments of intense pain when He simply says, “One step at a time, Heather. One step at a time.”
If I am not focused on how far I have to go to get through the struggle, I know I can make it to the end. Discouragement is greatest when I look ahead. Looking down during a run makes it bearable.
Looking at Jesus helps me bear the pain of my struggles. Jesus deeply desires for us to look to Him moment by moment. Not just when the steps are difficult but also when they are easy.
If I looked at Jesus during my marathons of pain, I would see the footsteps of my Savior, my Comforter right there beside me, ready to hold my hand, whispering, “We’re almost there, my precious. Don’t worry about how far you have to go. I’m right here beside you. You never have to run this race alone.”
If I look at Jesus, I will finish the race. I will reach the halleluiah-I’m-done end. And there, dear friends, is the Joy.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1b-3