May 3, 2022 — No First Step, No Journey

“We went to dinner the other night at the Good Fortune Chinese Restaurant,” Stan commented one morning after Ricky poured our first cup of coffee.”

“I haven’t been there for awhile,” I replied. “Still good?”

“Great in every way,” Stan said. “Great people serving great food. As well, I always enjoy the fortune cookies at the end of the meal.”

“You get a good one?”

“I did,” he said. “It was one I had seen before, and you’ve probably heard the expression, but it is one that reflects a lot on the truth of my faith walk.”

“Faith walk in a fortune cookie!” I said with a smile. “What was it?”

“The longest journey only begins with a first step,” Stan said.

“You’re right,” I said, “I’ve heard that before. But what does it have to do with your faith walk?”

“Two things,” Stan replied. “First, there was the big step of coming to faith. That took me a long time, but I finally took that essential step. Then there was the part about the spiritual journey God had for me after I came to faith. It also took me a long time to take the first step in that journey.”

“Why?”

“Fear,” Stan replied. “I was afraid of taking steps in the wrong direction, steps on a journey God did not intend for me. So I did nothing, considering it was better to be safe than sorry.”

“Better safe than sorry,” I repeated. “How’d that work out?”

“I may have thought I was safe,” Stan replied, “but in retrospect, I was really sorry that I was so reluctant to begin the journey God had for me.”

“However,” he continued, “in God’s magnificent grace and mercy, He soon made it clear to me that without stepping out I was never going to get to where He intended for me to be.”

“No first step, no journey!” I responded. “Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied.  “By just sitting there doing nothing, I was on a self-defined journey, just being carried along by what seemed best to me. However, God showed me that wasn’t what He had in mind and that He wasn’t worried about whether I would step out and fall down, as long as I relied on Him in getting back up.”

“Did you step out and fall down?”

“Many times,” Stan replied.  “My walk with God was clearly not a straight path, and I’m not sure it was or is intended to be a straight path. But I can tell you that each time I stumbled and fell down, God was there to pick me up, dust me off, bandage my wounds, and set me back on the path of the journey with Him.”

“So,” I said, “it was kind of a gradual process, a gradual journey in the right direction.”

“Gradual, indeed,” Stan replied. “As I look at my journey with God, there are a lot of things He had and has for me to see about His will that I can see a whole lot clearer if I take the first step, then the second, knowing that if the third and subsequent steps are not in accordance with His will He will make that clear.”

“For me,” he added, “it was better to take small steps, little by little, being guided by God.”

“You know,” I said, “as I think about it, I have seen several people who thought they knew what God had for them to do.  They took off running in the direction they thought best, ran into a brick wall, fell down, and never got back up.”

“I’ve seen that, too,” Stan replied, “and I think it’s important to remember that it is not about how many times you fall down, but about how many times you get back up with God’s help.”

___________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the salvation you granted me through my acceptance of the finished work of the cross. Thank you, too, that once I was granted the assurance of salvation and redemption, that you had a journey for me to travel with you for as long as you keep me on this side of eternity. I confess that I was reluctant to begin that journey, and that too often I am reluctant to continue that journey the way you intend. Please forgive the foolishness of that approach to walking the journey you have for me. Please help me in following every step of your lead exactly as you intend, knowing that if I step in a direction that is other than your intent that you will be there to guide me. Please lead and help me to follow. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you made the essential step that assures you of life eternally with God when it’s time? If no, why? If you have made that step and have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing in your journey with God on this side of eternity? Are you following His lead as He intends? If you sense the need to make some changes in how you are taking the steps in the journey God has for you, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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