When we look carefully at the course that brought about personal achievement, we often realize that it began with one step forward, that in time brought about much greater success than we anticipated.
Most often, the benefit of small beginning is often lost on us when we face the possibility of embarking on a new dream. The effort it would take to pursue it seems towering; we’re overwhelmed with the impossibility of it all. There seems to be little or nothing we can do to move forward. To the eyes of faith, though, there is a difference between “little” and “nothing.” Often there is something we can do, some obvious first step we could take. This may be exactly what is needed to set the wheels of faith in motion.
For one thing, we shouldn’t underestimate the effect of taking any initial step toward a goal, has upon us psychologically. Suddenly our psyche is devoted, and we become more alert to opportunities that will move us toward our dream.
There are several examples of people in the scripture who courageously took a minor step forward and in time brought about unprecedented success.
Ruth’s marriage to Boaz is one of the most celebrated in Scripture resulted from a small, ignoble step forward. The marriage became possible because Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, moved from Moab to Bethlehem. This move, detailed in the book of Ruth, was anything but a triumphant one for these two women who both went to Bethlehem as widows. Naomi returning grief stricken to her homeland, and Ruth following along out of devotion to Naomi. The move was borne more of necessity than of vibrant vision for the future. ( Ruth 1:16-22 )
Yet at least they did something to break the inertia of their grief and made a fresh start. In time the move brought benefits that exceeded their wildest expectations. Ruth met Boaz and married him, then gave birth to a son who became an ancestor of David. Naomi also found new life in this family connection, and in the many friendships that opened for her in Bethlehem. An unglamorous step forward brought about a wellspring of life for Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, and countless others who enjoyed the family relationships that resulted in the succeeding generations.
Nehemiah is one of the great heroes of Scripture. Against all odds, he mobilized the remnant of Israel to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, then reestablished the city as the center of Jewish worship life. As spectacular as this undertaking was, it began with a quiet, unspectacular step by Nehemiah that no one else knew he had taken. He made an earnest prayer, asking God to bring about the restoration of Jerusalem, and committing himself to obedience in the matter (Neh 1:5-11). As the book of Nehemiah unfolds, Nehemiah’s prayer has far-reaching results.
Nehemiah’s story is one of the most helpful examples in the Scripture showing the effect that merely committing ourselves internally to a goal can have upon reaching it. It demonstrates with equal force how a determined, heartfelt prayer can serve to inaugurate a goal. His example inspires us to see such private steps as crucial beginnings toward any purpose we wish to accomplish. Simply by setting our heart toward pursuing a goal and committing our concern sincerely to God, we are beginning from a position of strength.
We tend to glamorize the healing incidents in the bible and assume that those who came to Jesus for help did so boldly, with sublime confidence that they would be instantly cured.
I’m certain, though, that many came in the same ambivalent, tentative spirit in which we often seek medical help today. The woman with the hemorrhage is a case in point (Mk 5:24-34). Terribly concerned that no one would notice her, and uncertain whether approaching Jesus was even appropriate, she decided merely to touch the hem of his garment. That one small gesture not only brought her healing, but also an effusive compliment from Jesus about her faith
As we see here, Scripture not only describes small first steps that brought results over time, but those that reaped a surprising harvest immediately. Virtually all of the healing miracles mentioned in Scripture fit this pattern.
While we cannot premise that our own small first steps will immediately produce such astonishing results, we can never know unless we try.
Finally, we shouldn’t be discouraged in starting small, for little is much when God is in it and true godliness with contentment is itself great gain.
I hope this post provides some inspiration for setting goals and priorities, and for taking steps of faith.
Many thanks for your time. Wishing you God’s very best as you go through September.