One step at a time

garden stepsClimbing steps is easy enough when you are young and fit but not so easy when you’re getting older and a bit stiff. Young people love to race up, partly to show what they can do at their age; older folk have learned that it’s surprising what you can accomplish if you take things one step at a time.

Major Challenges

Life can present us with some formidable challenges. We might have a crisis with our health, or with that of someone close to us. We could lose our job; have to move home; make new friends or have to learn a new language. Sometimes we set ourselves these challenges, like wanting qualifications or a change of lifestyle. At other times we have no choice but just have to do the best we can.

Whatever the challenge, it is good advice to take things step by step: not to rush, but to approach the problem steadily. After all, if you were climbing up the steps shown on in the picture, wouldn’t you want to linger a little and enjoy the blossom and the views?

In Bible times people were sometimes confronted by issues that were hard to resolve. The land of Israel once lay desolate for seventy years, its inhabitants having gone into exile. When their descendants returned, there was a lot to do. The family farms had been neglected and they had families to feed. The cities that had once been occupied had fallen into disrepair and the temple in which their fathers had worshipped had been destroyed by enemy action. They had to attend to first things first.

The Right Time


Building their homes was the first job for the returning exiles, to provide shelter for themselves and their families. Home improvements can consume a lot of our time and money and it was the same in those days, over two thousand years ago. Wanting a bit of extra comfort or making things look more presentable, some householders were lining their walls with cedar wood boarding, only to earn this rebuke from a prophet of God:

“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways!’” (Haggai 1:4–5).

The prophet’s point was that following God was to be their first priority. Unless they put Him first nothing would work out for them. If they attended to God’s will as the first thing they did then everything else would fall into place under God’s hand. This is exactly the point the Lord Jesus made as well when teaching those who wanted to follow him:

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
All the things we really need will be supplied by God provided we make it our first priority to seek God’s will and to live accordingly.


Some people have difficulty making a commitment about anything. They don’t get married because that’s too big a step and they might want to walk away from the relationship if things get tough. They don’t get a permanent job because they prefer the option of short-term contracts: they might get bored doing the same job, or something better might turn up. They won’t join a church congregation because they might have to get involved.

Such people prefer to be free agents, having no significant obligations or responsibilities. But people on the fringe of things never get to experience the enjoyment of those who have stuck together through thick and thin, good and bad times, happiness and sadness. And when it comes to church membership, they never really share in the fellowship of believers who worship together week after prayerful week.


But how do you make the decision that could prove life changing, when you find decision-taking difficult? You have to take it one step at a time. Making a small decision is the way to considering a bigger one, with God’s help. It was so with the exiles who returned to the land of Israel back in Haggai’s day.

Encouraged by the promise that God would help them to settle back there, they began to build the Temple on its ancient site. The words of God through His prophets stirred them up and they started to build (Haggai 1:14,15).
They weren’t especially skilled, but they did their best and when they had finished they were a bit downcast. For the Temple that had been on that site – built in the days of King Solomon – was one of the wonders of the ancient world, and the second Temple they had built was much less grand.

Doing our best

God does not ask the impossible; He only asks us to do our best. He sent Haggai to reassure them that He would see to it that the Temple would become glorious, for He would fill it with His presence. And He sent another prophet with a message which is exactly what we need to know as well. His name was Zechariah and this is what he said:

“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things...? (Zechariah 4:9,10).

Zerubbabel was the leader of the infant community at the time and he was overseeing the building work, from start to finish. What God wants us to understand is that our efforts might not amount to much, compared with the achievements of others, but they are acceptable in His sight, and that is all that matters. If God is with us we are bound to succeed.

Come to Jesus

Anyone contemplating establishing a life-changing relationship with Almighty God needs to come first to Jesus, for he is the self-declared way, through truth, to life (John 14:6) and nobody can come to God except by believing and being baptized into the saving name of Jesus. But that’s a big step and you may be wondering where to start.

The answer is to start reading the Bible regularly – a bit at a time. Leave the rest to God.



A version of this article was published in Glad Tidings magazine. If you found it helpful you can subscribe to receive a free copy of the Glad Tidings magazine each month by clicking on the logo below.