My daughters wanted me to come to their high school football game last Friday, so I decided to walk there. Ever since I got out of prison I have walked and rode the bike everywhere – I love it. I suppose that I am still fascinated with not being caged in anymore. My Grandmother, Minnie, would to tell me stories about how my Grandfather, Jack Gray, when they first moved to Ohio from Alabama and didn’t have a car yet, how he use to leave the house at four in the morning and walk from the east-side of Warren, Ohio and walk all the way to the North-end so that he could make it to his job at Copperweld on time. My Mother Gwen has that same blood in her. She would never let the fact that her car was broke down stop her from going wherever she needed to be.
These memories came to me when I was walking to the football game and it occurred to me that this is precisely what the Spiritual Life is all about. Inasmuch as the call to holiness is clear, “Sanctify yourselves, then, and be holy; for I, the LORD, your God, am holy” (Lev. 20:7). “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48), the questions remain: How do we get there? How do we become holy? How is that we journey from sinner to saint in this pilgrimage of life? The answer is that, we do it by patiently and persistently putting one foot in front of the other every single day of our life. That is how we Cooperate with God in His work to conform us into the image of His Son.
No matter what the test or trial, or consolation or blessing – we never stop walking towards God. We never deviate from the narrow way. We never take a detour into sin. On the contrary, we press forward towards God one step at a time, and that is what eventually gets us there. Even if we fall, even if we get off course; we get up with grace, we redirect or whole self to Heaven and start taking those steps again.
I’m drawn to the example of our Blessed Mother again and how as soon as God came to dwell in her as Son, she immediately went to bear witness to the good news. The Gospel of Luke tells us that to get to the town of Judah where Elizabeth lived, Mary had to travel through some hill country to get there. Yes, before our journey gets easy – before we can cruise and go downhill, we must first struggle to get up the hill first. But all the way though; through all the ups and downs of this life we must keep the attitude of Mary. Not only did she have Jesus inside of her through all the ups and downs, but the very reason why she was traveling was so that she could bear witness to the glory of God. Likewise, that is how and why we too much put one foot in front of the other.
Then the Lord Himself came and walked to Mount Calvary with the Cross on His back. How did He get there? How did He save us from sin and death? He carried His Cross the same way we carry ours – by putting one foot in front of the other. Even when God sends us a Simon of Cyrene to help us carry our cross, we still have to Cooperate with Him by putting one foot in front of the other.
“You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Mk. 13:13) In other words, there aren’t any quitters in Heaven. There is no one in Heaven who did not persevere to the end. Therefore, no matter how hard your journey gets, no matter how many obstacles present themselves, no matter the amount of demonic tricks, temptations, and evil people trying to undermine the holiness that God is drawing you into, no matter what you’ve been through or where you’ve come from – if God gives you the grace for a new day, do your best that day by placing one front in front of the other and by doing the next best thing to glorify God.
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.