I received a video just yesterday of my 1 year old nephew learning how to walk. He is holding on to his mom’s arms a short distance away from his dad who calls for him to walk in his direction. The little guy hobbles his way over — to the great satisfaction and joy of his father! Even the simplicity of my nephew’s 5 steps filled his parents heart, and my heart, with delight! If you’ve ever gone through the process of a child learning to walk, you’ll know the absolute joy and celebration involved. A child could only take 3 steps before falling on their face, yet everyone around would be clapping and cheering them on.
I’ve been reminded recently that this is exactly how our heavenly Father views us. We can so often be quick to judge and criticize ourselves for falling on our faces, but He is delighted by every step we take. Even when we fall, He is clapping for us up in heaven! I find we often centre our thoughts and perspective on the fall, rather than the celebration of progress. We focus on the negative, rather than the victory of each step. Why should we be sad when the Father is so overjoyed by our attempts to progress?
I have a confession — I am my own worst enemy. I am a very passionate individual with big dreams, aspirations, and expectations for myself. I long to be everything that I am capable of being, but I don’t always hit the target. I find it very easy to become my own punching bag and focus on all my shortcomings. It’s equally bizarre because one could confess their darkest moments to me and I’d be lightning quick to remind them that Jesus is willing to forgive and forget in the blink of an eye! Yet, if I were to sleep even one hour past my desired waking time that’s worthy of a trip to the gallows!
I think it’s safe to say that being one’s own worst enemy is a common occurrence. We are most critical of ourselves and when we miss the target of our expectations, we will be the first, and often times the only one, to condemn ourselves. We all have goals for our lives, ages we want to accomplish our dreams by, and expectations for how we live, yet we don’t always hit these targets as imagined. And when this happens, we often focus on the disappointment and how much further we have to go to get to the top of the mountain, rather than the victory of how much progress we’ve made since being at sea level.
A friend shared an analogy with me this week that I believe is a perfect illustration for this post. He said “If you were to have the goal to get into shape and you started going to the gym, you wouldn’t go directly to the weights and start bench pressing 500 pounds. You would start small and gradually, over time and with effort, make your way towards lifting more and more weight. As you consistently hit the gym and give it effort, you’ll eventually find that you’re lifting 100 pounds, then 200, and onwards. You may find that you struggle to ever lift 500 pounds, but what matters is you’re lifting more than you ever were before and you’re trying your best to continue to make progress.”
This goes for both our pursuit of obedience and righteousness and the pursuit of our personal aspirations and dreams.
It’s been a year since I started this blog and I find it very easy to wish I had accomplished more in the past year, like writing a book, but to consider the writing muscle I had even 1 year ago, having posted consistently every Friday is an absolute victory! What I am doing today is a provision of God! Sure, I can easily look at my weakness and how I had hoped to achieve certain things by now, but I can also choose to rejoice in the progress that has been made! The same can go with sin in my life. Yes, I have a long way to go, but I also have come one heck of a long way in my days. That’s reason for celebration!
It sounds wild to say, but celebrate amidst the shortcomings and failures. Celebrate amidst the sin in your life. Not because either of those things are at all worthy of celebration, but because if we all took a moment to reflect on where we started we would have every reason in the world to be overjoyed by where we now are. This is a journey and things rarely go exactly to plan, but the LORD is delighted with each step we take. He is overjoyed when we get back up after a fall. He is celebrating when we lift 10 pounds, then 25 pounds, and so forth.
He is celebrating our progress — so let’s do the same!