“And make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:13).
Most everyone knows what steady footsteps look like in everyday life. A small child does not take steady steps because he is still too weak. He easily trips on small stones and falls. A sick person is often not capable of walking without support even when he exerts much effort. Illness has robbed his strength. A tired person might also go along his way with an unsteady gait. The most unstable person is one who is drunk. Alcohol causes him to lose his balance. The healthy and strong person sets his foot calmly and safely on his path. He does not worry about swaying or stumbling.
This is how it is in everyday life. The verse in Hebrews 12 however, refers to our spiritual life. Spiritually, we can sway back and forth, and become weak and tired. We can lack inner clarity and show obvious uncertainty. When our spiritual journey is hindered by these things, our goal can fade into the distance. If we fail to take steady steps we will struggle greatly and stop moving forward.
Carelessness, negligence, or superficiality can make our steps unsteady, especially when we focus more on religious formalities than earnestly striving after righteousness. Or perhaps we are constantly looking away from the path before us, and our attention is not focused on the goal. If we are distracted by all that is going on around us, we forget our actual calling. Or do we lack discernment and have too little conviction? Any wind of doctrine then makes us unstable, and we turn here and there, missing out on a quiet and safe journey in the light. We are unable to distinguish between wrong and right, and have even less knowledge of the actual truth. Bright lights blind us. We have no idea what the actual purpose of a Christian life is: living by faith, showing love in action, demonstrating joyous hope and faithfulness unto death. We may consider ourselves to be rich, but without discernment and conviction, we are poor, needy people.
In order to take steady steps, we need to make a definite break with the world and sin. Paul was never in danger of taking unstable steps because he turned completely from sin when he repented. With confidence, he was able to write: “…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). We never find this man of faith uncertain, doubting, giving up, or weakly standing still. With secure, steady steps he moved straight ahead towards the goal of his calling. He was serious about living righteously himself and bringing others to heaven with him. With earnestness, he took steady steps. His spirit was satisfied with the still, holy power of Christ’s Spirit. He was deeply immersed in the truth and firmly anchored in it. Even if others were tossed to and fro by lack of conviction, he knew what he believed and believed what he knew.
Some, however, lack sincere faith, discernment of truth, a deep conviction for living out the truth and an unwavering pursuit after the eternal goal. In many people, a half-hearted nature is all too evident. They lack sufficient courage to go against the currents of our time, to navigate their way through storms and waves in order to journey towards the safe haven. We desperately need to fully clothe ourselves in the strength which is made perfect in weakness!
Anyone who strives to take steady steps must also know the way. If this direction is missing, then there really is no chance for success. We learn the right way through Jesus and His Word. Anyone whose vision has been enlightened can see Jesus and clearly sees the way in God’s Word. This gives security, assurance and rest. But we must pay attention to the way.
Overzealousness is not necessary, and could even hinder us in taking steady steps. But a single-minded, earnest devotion is necessary. For whoever endures to the end will be saved.