Baby Steps

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk. Hosea 11:3

 Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. 2 Peter 3:15

 I am always in a hurry. If I start something, I want to finish it quickly. I get tired during intermediate phases, and I want to get done. I learned long ago that I would never get to the end of a big project by thinking about something days or weeks away. I need to choose a target I can reach today, even if it makes only the tiniest bit of progress toward the ultimate goal. I am impatient. I even interrupt people who hesitate or deliberate over their words. I often need to bite my tongue in order not to finish their sentences for them.

These verse remind me of the virtue and the value of patience. A baby doesn’t learn to walk in a day. From birth, the baby sees people walking, and the baby wants to walk, but he has neither the strength nor the skill to do so. It takes about a year, more or less, for the baby to be ready to walk. Even then, there are lots of falls, lots of toddling steps, and lots of hugs and smiles from Mama to encourage the baby. The baby first walks, then as soon as possible, the baby runs. Upstairs. Downstairs. Walking, running, even skipping. Baby learns a lot between birth and his/her fifth birthday. It takes time. It doesn’t happen all at once. Skills, strength, judgment, courage – all must mature, and Mama must be patient.

Our growth in the faith happens the same way. When God said, “I taught Ephraim to walk,” we see the image of God holding the baby’s hands as a baby takes steps while clinging to Mom. Then we see baby standing – all alone, upright, then suddenly fearful and plopping down. Then we see Mama only a step or two away, beckoning baby to step forward into her arms. God takes as much time as it takes for us to mature, just as a mother takes as much time as it takes for baby to learn to walk.

I am as impatient with myself as I am with others. If God wants me to do something, I want to have done it by nightfall. I am certain that God wants me to write and teach, but I don’t have a book published or a schedule of classes to teach. I ask myself, What’s wrong with me?

I think God doesn’t work that way. He sees my life like that of a baby learning to walk. God knows that I need to grow strong faith, develop character, increase my knowledge, be nourished by experience, try and fail, try and fail, and learn to trust that God will be there every time I fall down. Some day I will be ready for big        things, but right now I am getting ready.

It is tempting to interpret my failures as specific signs of a specific teaching God wants me to learn. I need to stop doing that. My failures are my failures. Period. Just like a baby falling down after taking two steps. Instead of crying “I’m a failure!” I need to do what a baby does – laugh and get up and try again.

Like Ephraim, I’m God’s baby. God wants me to learn to walk in faith. He doesn’t mind grabbing me up in his arms to comfort me when I am discouraged, but he does want me to get down pretty soon and keep trying. Mama God has set me down in Clarence Town and is leaning down with outstretched arms, beckoning, calling. “Come to me, Katherine! You can do it!”