I awoke today with this thought turning over in my mind. The ancient philosophers had a saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and this is more than a truism, it is a reality. If we do not start, we will not ever arrive at our destination. No matter the length of the journey, a first step must take place. After the first one, multiple ones will follow or we will never arrive.
There is a tension between resting and working in the Scripture. We are saved by grace, yet we demonstrate this saving reality by how we work. We are not saved by works, but we will work once we are saved. Galatians and James are both in our New Testaments and both are the inspired word of God. Galatians focuses on saving grace alone and James says show me your saving faith by your works, so which one is true? They both are.
God wants us to strive to enter into His rest regarding salvation, but we are to constantly be about His business while we maintain rest. We were not born again simply to punch our ticket to heaven or God would have been better served to take us there as soon as we were saved. God left us here after salvation with instructions to continue with the work He began.
As fathers and men, we are called to be about the Father’s business beginning in our homes. We are charged with the leadership and responsibility of discipling our family as well as striving to enter into rest. After a full day’s labor, navigating the rush of traffic, and carrying a variety of responsibilities in our employment, we still have the duty to be godly husbands and fathers. Sometimes this can be overwhelming. We must make time somewhere in our day to be filled with the Spirit, receive a dose of God’s empowering grace, and draw life for our Life Source, Christ. If we do not, we will not have the strength to do what we have been called to do!
Seeking the Lord is commanded in Matthew 6:33 – we are to seek Him first and to desire to further the work of His Kingdom in everything we do. This goal should be underneath all of our endeavors. Easy to say, not so easy to do being human. Nonetheless, this must be our desire and goal no matter how many times we may have failed in its execution. This desire should also be behind what we are attempting to do in our families.
So, back to the title of this blog – what is the next step for you? Each of us is different and in a wide variety of places in our Pilgrims’ journey to the Celestial Shores. Some of us have been walking for decades and others just now starting, however, the process is the same; take the next step. We all walk one step at a time. What is that next step for you? What is it that God wants you to do with your family? Excellent questions that only you and God can answer.
For me, God has asked me to move more into being more of a mentor. For my whole life as a pastor, I was always looking for the older man that I could connect with, to collaborate with, to learn from. As one of my friends so gently told me one day as I bemoaned my futility in this search, “Look in the mirror, you are the older man!” He is correct, I am the older man now, and as such, I have a responsibility to attempt to help others in their walk. My children are grown, my wife and I have been married for almost 37 years, and I have been pastoring our type of church for just about as long as anyone else in the country. It is time to step up to helping others.
How about you? Perhaps it is time for you to take the next step in your marriage or parenting adventure. Maybe this is the day to start praying with your wife. The next step might be to begin family devotions or reorganize the family schedule to allow for more time together. It might be about time to consider how to begin a family outreach of some sort, perhaps to a local nursing home, or to volunteer for a needy organization. The possibilities are endless, but they all begin the same way, one step at a time. Will you ask your Sovereign Lord what the next step is for you and yours? Your journey will be different than anyone else, but they all work the same way, they begin with taking the next step.