I want to take a moment and talk about something that occurred to me during the recent 50th anniversary of the first moon walk. I was 16 years old when Armstrong first stepped on the moon. I was a huge space program fan, as almost everyone I knew was.
I had followed the space program in school as it developed. From the one man Mercury program to the two-man Gemini to the three-man Apollo programs, it was amazing. We talked about them in class at school and it was all over television. The idea that we were actually going to be able to do what President Kennedy had challenged us to do was beyond exciting.
I remember staying up late with my family that Saturday night watching the moon landing. It was riveting, although at the time we had no idea just how close to disaster they were as they came down to land on the moon. I’ll never forget the Dean of News Broadcasters, Walter Cronkite, utter what might be, and should be, his most famous line: “Oh boy!”
He apologized for his emotional interruption mere seconds after saying it, but he shouldn’t have. He perfectly captured the moment. It was the perfect reaction and it was exactly how I felt.
The next morning I stepped out my front door to go to church and then came back home and stayed glued to the TV. It was absolutely still and I remember thinking that it was as if the world was holding its breath.
Hours later, everyone who could watched those ghostly figures cavort on the surface of the moon. It was absolutely unbelievable and wonderful. In those moments we were all proud to be Americans and amazed at what had been done.
What had been impossible a mere nine years earlier was now happening right before my eyes. There were a couple of important life lessons in that moment, and like most 16 year-olds I completely missed them. Well now I’m 66 years old and think I’m finally getting them! I know, I’m a little slow, but hey – better late than never, right?
The one I want to talk about today is one that I keep seeing play out in my life all the time. It’s so simple and that’s probably the reason we tend to either overlook or downplay it. Yet the space program of the 1960’s is the perfect example of just how powerful it is.
To do great things, to go really far, you do so one small step at a time.
See? I told you it was simple.
You see this everywhere, in everything. A lot of us want to take a few huge leaps and get where we want to go. We’re impatient and in a hurry. So it’s “Up, up and away!” We take the huge leap and all too often end up in a bloody heap on the floor.
But the alternative is to head towards the same goal and in the same direction but to do so by taking thousands of steps instead of three or four leaps. It takes longer to get where you want or need to go, but it’s a much more steady and sure way to get there.
It’s good to have big dreams and want to do things that will really make a difference in this world. But the way to get there isn’t by jumping and rushing. It’s far better to take things one step at a time. Just like the space program who started with unmanned rockets, then monkeys, then one person, then two, then three and finally, after all that time, we went to the moon and eventually landed on it.
You can go much farther than you think you can by taking things step by step. The secret – if you want to call it that – is to take those steps over a long period of time. That’s how you make progress. And you just might be surprised at how far you can go.
Last year I walked around 365 miles in 21 days, and I did it one step at a time. When you add the 200 miles I hiked on the Camino in 2016 that adds up to a lot. I started in France and ended at the Atlantic in Spain. I, and the hundred of thousands of others who’ve walked the Camino, did it one step at a time.
So don’t get discouraged by small progress, just keep your eyes on the goal and keep on stepping.
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.