A few months ago, my boyfriend told me he hated me. Well, actually, he said we should go hiking, but it’s the same thing.

After work, we drove to the Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Previously the trail was a railway used to carry building materials up to Pikes Peak, and the ties—all 2,744 of them—now form steps up the mountain. At the bottom, there is a sign encouraging hikers to pace themselves, because this hike is literally like climbing the Empire State Building.

It doesn’t feel like that at first though. It starts gently. Quickly, though, your legs start to burn. Soon you can smell smoke. Where is that coming from? You look down and it’s your thighs rubbing together like sticks of firewood. Now you’re questioning all your life choices that led you to this moment and wondering, Have I made a will? 

As the trail turned vertical, I found the best strategy was to keep my eyes on the ground, putting one foot in front of the other. Over and over again. We zigzagged up the steps. It was boring. We huffed and puffed, but we kept taking on the mountain at six-inch increments.

The task that was overwhelming as a whole became achievable, and completed, when broken down into what was directly in front of each person.

Sometimes, to make progress—spiritually, relationally, professionally—you can’t look at where you’re going. You can’t keep your eyes on the prize, because your faith just isn’t that big yet. That business you want to begin—you need an impossible amount of money. That family you want to start—you can hardly bring yourself to pray for it. That person who hurt you—they’re unforgivable. So what do you do?

When Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he had the priests make repairs “each in front of his own house” (Nehemiah 3:28). The task that was overwhelming as a whole became achievable, and completed, when broken down into what was directly in front of each person.

If God has given you a dream but it’s overwhelming, scary, or ridiculous, try looking down. Do the next right thing. Don’t put the future on a spreadsheet. Just focus on taking the next six-inch step. It’s called the Christian walk, not the Christian leap.

Maybe you will, like us, be rewarded at the end with a seat above the clouds and a fabulous sunset from a mountaintop. (OK, admittedly, our view was from two-thirds of the way up the mountain due to how late it was when we began. Don’t judge us though; when was the last time you took 2000 steps at a 41 percent average incline?)

Anneliese Wahlman
Creative Writer at Light Bearers

Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.