My legs started shaking as I climbed higher on the wall. Looking to my left I saw the wall I tried to climb earlier in the day, realizing I was now parallel to the spot I reached earlier. Panic began to grip me. Yes, it was an indoor rock wall. Yes, I was surrounded with safety precautions and harnessed in. But still.
Doubt crept in. If I couldn’t make it past this height on the other wall, how could I go higher on this one? Looking down and seeing how high up I was, I began thinking, this is far enough. In my mind, it was time to call it a day. Then, I looked down and saw how high up I was. I started to believe I had made it far enough, and it was time to come down.
I looked at my sister and brother-in-law standing at the base of the wall. I told them I couldn’t go any further and was coming down. It wasn’t a question. By this point, my forearms had joined my legs in shaking. I was done, but–to my surprise–my siblings below me refused to let me quit.
“You’re so close!” my sister, Laura, yelled. “You can’t quit now!”
For the first time since I began to feel weak, I looked up to where I was going, and I saw she was right. I actually wasn’t that far away from my wall’s summit. With these two cheering me on, I pulled myself up, took another step, and was able to keep going.
This experience served as a reminder as I considered my current walk of faith. Let’s get real; living by faith can be difficult and challenging. We climb and climb, trying to take our next steps of faith (whatever that next step might be), but sometimes we feel spent. So, we stop where we are.
We begin to feel shaky and wonder if we can go any further. We look around and see people at what appears to be the same place as us–like the spot I had reached on the other wall–and begin to believe we’ve made it far enough. After all, we are parallel to everyone else, right?
What I did not consider, however, was that the wall next to me was different than the one I was currently climbing. The path to the top was not the same. There were slants in different places, the footholds were spaced differently and the difficulty level was different.
Therefore, the point I saw may be a more difficult point to reach on that wall, or it may take longer to get there. I can’t base my progress on looking at someone or somewhere else. While it may seem we are at the same point, our journeys to the same point may be vastly different. Then, of course, I looked down. I saw how far I had come and was proud, an arguably just feeling. But in that moment, self-satisfaction replaced my determination to keep going.
Instead of looking up to see how close I was to the top, I thought my progress was “good enough.” I don’t know about you, but my walk of faith has met many moments like this. Seeing how far I’ve come, it’s sometimes easy to feel like I either cannot or do not need to go further.
Even if we’ve done well however, it doesn’t mean we cannot do more and do better. Yet, we often feel as if we are incapable of stretching ourselves and going further than we first thought.
But in these moments, the people around us may encourage us, pushing us toward the next step in our journey.
Laura did not just tell me I was close to the top; she told me where I could put my foot next. Ultimately, it wasn’t even about the distance I had left to cover because all I needed to know was my next step.
We all have different walks of faith, and our “next step” may be different than that of the person who appears to be walking next to us. We can’t spend our time looking around because it distracts us from the tangible next step we need to take.
And, in the end, it is those small steps of faith which will take us exactly to the destination point the Lord has for us.