Have you ever heard that old joke (that I may botch) that goes something like, “How do you eat a entire elephant?” Then you say, “I don’t know.” And the answer is, “One bite at a time.” It’s really not that funny (or maybe it is, but I’m telling it wrong). I’m no good at jokes anyway, so there you go.
That pretty much sums up life. One step at a time.
It seems to me that there are seasons of life when I feel this much more keenly, even though it’s always true. Much of my 20’s was spent ticking off the list of what we envisioned for our life. And, to an extent, it all sort of happened according to our effort and desires. We took step 1, but we could see step 10 and just walked right up to it. Who wouldn’t want that?
But there is a sweetness and security in waiting, holding patterns, and the unexpected. A sweetness in taking step 1 with no line of sight for where step 10 will be. What dependence in prayer is formed, what joy in needed communion, what reliance on the work of Jesus, what comfort from His Spirit!
So, the Spirit of God teaches me contentment in every circumstance, not through giving me the circumstances I would choose, but through giving me the ones that are best.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
The 23rd Psalm may be the most popular Psalm in history, for good reason. There is comfort there–comfort that sits on rock solid truth. That’s the only kind of comfort for me, in every step of life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
(Psalm 23 ESV)