Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. (Abraham Lincoln) If you have ever lost your footing over a slippery rock in a stream, finding yourself a little wetter than you ever anticipated getting, you know the wisdom in these words! The rock was wobbly, slippery, or just couldn't stand your weight when you tried to pass over. Down you went - cold water sloshing into your shoes, jeans laden with water, and your journey wasn't even over yet! Life is kind of like that - we get underway, face a few obstacles, find we "think" we have the right footing, but alas, we are sloshing, laden, and still with a long ways to go!
Those people who are listening to Me, those people who hear what I say and live according to My teachings—you are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, on a firm foundation. (Matthew 7:24 VOICE)
Lincoln also said, "My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure." When we have laid out our plans, taken our steps, and find they may not have been as well-planned or secure as they needed to be, some think it is the fact we have taken a step that matters most, not that it was in the right direction or upon the right foundation. Yes, whenever we take a step, we run a certain "risk" we might not have the best "footing", but when the steps are ordered by God, we find we have less risk of our passage bringing about the failures which will keep us down for the count!
Let me caution each of us for just a moment - the fact we take a step IS important - but steps in any direction not ordained by God are "forced steps". They don't come easy to us and the path isn't an easy one to traverse. The steps forward may be marked with a few back here and there, not to mention hazards not fully recognized or easily navigable. We can make up our mind to take "the first step", but if that is onto a slippery slope, we will be sure to experience some other steps we may not have counted on taking!
Some things to keep in mind before acting upon what we "think" may be the right course for us to take:
- Are we having to force the issue? If we find we are having to do the majority of the work, expending huge amounts of energy we cannot afford to expend, and getting very little progress as a result, it may be we are trying to force ourselves into a particular course of action really not designed for us to take at all, or the timing / place in life right now may not be correct for that action. We can push a stone on level ground, or try to finagle it uphill - the stone may weigh exactly the same amount on level ground as it does on the hill, but one will be a whole lot more work than the other!
- Are we certain the course of action is ours to take? We might find ourselves taking the "right" course of action, with a solid foundation upon which we can anchor ourselves, but we may not always be the right ones to take that course of action. We can carry the weight of a heavy load because we have the strength and stamina to do it, but it may not have been our load to carry - someone else was really designed to carry it. We might actually be doing someone else a disservice by carrying that load when the load was clearly theirs to bear. I remember paying off some debt for one of my kids, only to find they continued to get into debt - they didn't learn from the mess they got themselves into the first time. It wasn't until they had to dig out themselves that they developed the principles of living within their means!
Foundation is important - but it is also important to be sure we are using our foundation as a means to stand strong - not to launch ahead or do what we aren't designed to do. We might take steps forward, get a little waylaid by one thing or another, but what we do with those moments of failure often determine if we will continue to take the steps, adjust our course, or stop pursuing it altogether. Just sayin!