Every morning she walks out of her cluttered apartment and painstakingly makes her way to the elevator. Three stories down she emerges, ready for her trek across the street, through the parking lot and into the public library. The walk is less than a city block but it will take her nearly fifteen minutes. Each step is labored, slow and stilted. She wobbles and wavers. But she makes the journey.
Her name is Teresa and she is my elderly, frail neighbor with missing teeth and a bandaged leg. She lives alone on the top floor of my apartment building. I've never seen her welcome a visitor or get in a car. Her days consist of her home, the library and the one single street in between.
For Teresa that journey across the street is a physical feat. She could just sit at home and avoid the labored walk across the road in the sweltering ninety degree heat. Or she could get a motorized scooter to take her to the library and maybe even a bit further to explore the buzzing downtown shops and restaurants. Even a cane would help assist her in staying upright without swaying back and forth, making the onlooker sick with worry that the next gust of wind will blow her little frame right over! But Teresa doesn't rely on any of those aids. She goes about her days on her own, making small steps towards her intended destination.
Watching Teresa I can't help but see a little bit of her in all of us. Our spiritual walk with God is a lot like her walk to the library. It is slow. It is labored. Sometimes it looks terribly wobbly and precarious. We have to make that walk in all kinds of conditions - unbearable heat, a winter's blizzard. Yet, if we fix our eyes on our destination and go forward with determination, we can overcome every obstacle.
The journey won't necessarily be easy. In fact, we shouldn't even be surprised by all the hurtles we'll have to climb over, difficulties we will face and obstructions that will be placed in our way. 1 Peter 4:12 says, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." When we struggle and suffer and our every step is painful and slow, we shouldn't be surprised. We have been given fair warning. While walking with Christ we can expect fiery ordeals and trying times. But we can rejoice in them because what we are experiencing is a taste of what Christ endured. We are sharing in His suffering and one day we will share in His glory.
As we labor along our road of life we need not look too far ahead. Teresa doesn't. She just looks across the road, to the library, to her very next destination. If she can make it there she can rest. She'll worry about the strength needed to return when the time comes, but for now she has one mission: make it across the road.
I could use a bit more of Teresa's spirit, attitude and outlook. I don't need to see the whole year ahead or even the whole day ahead. I just need to take the next step. God will see me through the rest. But if I can make the next step, no matter how painful and difficult it may be, He will provide me with the strength and endurance needed for the rest of the journey.