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Hope One Step At A Time

I stopped by the river yesterday in the chill of early morning and found a dry bench under a tree by the brisk rapids. The current rushed by me with such speed and power always in forward motion. 

Spring is a season of growth, power, and change. I ponder whether I have seasons of growth, power, and change in my life? Or do I become stagnant? In the summer or winter, the river is always in forward motion even if it’s barely noticeable, never stagnant. How do I live a life that is always in forward motion? 

Forward motion will have seasons, at times, like the spring river roaring onward, but most of the time it will be more like the summer river, slow and steady, maybe forward motion that no one else would even take notice of. It might be one baby step that has us moving forward, and with our smallest steps of forward motion, we are choosing hope, no matter how small.

I imagine different times in my life where even one step felt crippling. As a young mom, with the weight of the world on my shoulders, I often fell into bouts of overwhelm and exhaustion. With so many little hands, feet, and voices who only needed me, the me who didn’t always feel equipped to be so needed. Yet, the gentle whisper usually came from a friend (God uses many ways to get to us), or a song, that I’m not created to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m created to take the next step He puts in front of me.

If only I could share this insight with the 10, 13, or 18 year old Sarah. The Sarah who dreamed of great things, but assumed that great things were big things only done by great people. After moving to Wyoming, my mom held me and my younger sister back a year in school because we’d missed so many days. We school-hopped a bit, floundering to find our place in our new space. Eventually, I landed in a private Christian school. Once I went to high school they would not accept any of those private school credits, and told me I’d have to take another full year of high school. I was thriving before I learned my new reality, making friends in my grade and on the varsity tennis team. Defeat settled in immediately. A defeat that lingered even into my adult life. 

Satan always wants us moving backward (something the river can’t do), looking over our shoulder, and, reflecting on the past. He’s constantly reminding us of how impossible forward motion seems. His mission is to leave us in a stagnant, desperate, hopeless state. His mission is to remind us how we fail time and time again. 

That’s why one baby step is an act of hope and one step away from naming the lies of Satan for what they truly are. That one step could be a life-saving step (sometimes that’s the way it feels). That one step could release Satan’s grip, his lies that are entangled in the heart. It sounds too simple and too easy, but we walk by faith into the light of hope one baby step at a time. 

But what if we’re not dwelling on the past? But not moving forward either? I learned that the river does have areas where it pools and the water sits in one spot. When water sits in one place and has no forward motion it becomes a landing place for mosquitoes and bacteria, which becomes a breeding place for disease. Is this my life when I become too comfortable? Do I become a breeding place for disease? You may think, “I’m happy where I’m at,” and that’s okay. The thing to remember is we don’t need to be the roaring spring river, most often that’s just a season in our life. A summer or even a winter river might be the season you’re in. A slow and steady pace seems more realistic. Forward motion may just be making your bed every day and reading one scripture in the morning while the rest of the house reigns in disarray. 

For me, forward motion began long ago as I put one foot in front of the other training for my first marathon. With each new venture, I’ve felt called to, sometimes the energy is like that fast paced current, and sometimes I can barely rally the strength to move, yet I’ve learned I must move no matter how small the step. I think we all know in our hearts what sort of forward motion we are being called to. I just don’t want to be found stagnant nor a breeding ground for disease. 

I find myself returning to the river a lot these days, to sit, to meditate, to visualize my calling of forward motion, even if in the smallest ways. The river reminds me that my life should always be moving forward and with every step I take, I am stepping into hope. Hope doesn’t step backward just as the river cannot flow backward. 

I’d love to hear your steps of forward motion!


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