Focus on the Path, Not the Problem
I remember seeing the images of Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and thinking, There’s no way that they will ever be able to clean that up. It’s too overwhelming, too big, too painful. Where would they even start? Of course, the answer is quite simple… they had to start in the same place that any journey begins — at the beginning.
Sometimes, the mountains of destruction or hardship in our own life can seem just as daunting. We look at the overwhelming tasks before us, and we just don’t know how to get started or if we have the strength to keep going. Our personal “Ground Zero” could be anything – picking up the pieces after a divorce, making funeral arrangements and finding a way to move on, being a long-term caregiver to a seriously ill loved one, recovering from bankruptcy or a foreclosure, getting a scary diagnosis and preparing to fight for your life, facing another day under a cloud of depression or mental illness, finding your way to sobriety. The list of possible hardships is endless, but how we deal with each challenge successfully is really quite simple – we put one foot in front of the other.
Imagine if you tried to climb a mountain and you continually kept your eyes focused on the faraway peak of the mountain that seemed completely unreachable. Not only would such a strategy be extremely discouraging, but it would quickly become fruitless as well – a climber must keep his attention much closer to himself, focusing on where he is at the moment and what his next step will be. If not, he would get nowhere, and he may even put himself in great peril as he would be stepping blindly.
The same is true for us when a difficulty arises. If we focus continually on the enormity of the whole problem, the big picture, the “peak” instead of the path right in front of us, we will surely become overwhelmed and discouraged. We may even give up. On the other hand, if we focus on putting one foot in front of the other – asking ourselves, “What can I do JUST FOR TODAY to move forward? – then the challenge becomes manageable. We may not be able to look ahead and ever see a way out of our grief, imagine a day when we won’t live paycheck to paycheck, or believe in a day when we won’t need a drink—but we CAN see that JUST FOR TODAY we can make a phone call to ask for help, go to an AA meeting, pray, bring a loved one to one more doctor appointment, fill out one more job application, face one more chemo treatment. When we focus on just today, we can find the strength to do what needs to be done.
God never promises to show us up front how all our pain will work itself out for our good, but He does promise to be “a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.” Notice that — He doesn’t light up the whole mountain because he wants you to focus on just taking the next right step. You can do that. JUST FOR TODAY – YOU CAN DO THAT!
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