The Very First Step
Rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35
Whenever a guy is getting out of jail soon, I ask him about his plans. Most inmates have some history of addiction, often relapsing into the old life if they return to their old environment. While incarcerated, they say they’ve changed – and they mean it – but when they go back to the same using friends, the predictable usually happens. So, I always try to ask, What is your first step when you leave jail? Who is going to pick you up? Who are you going to live with?
If an addict’s using friends pick him up, then he’ll probably be using within minutes of leaving jail and he’ll probably return soon. If, however, he makes the difficult decision to cut off the old life, then he’s much more likely to remain in recovery – and out of jail. When leaving jail, first steps are profoundly important.
This is no less true for me. Once I take the first step down a path, I’m likely to continue down it – for good or bad. Daily, I must choose to purposefully take my first step in the right direction, or I’ll naturally take the wrong one.
In today’s passage, Mark tells us about one of Jesus’ mornings. Rising early, Jesus got up and went out to find a place where he could be alone with God. There, he prayed, spending intimate time with the father. This was the first step of Jesus’ day.
If Christ’s example is to be followed, our first step every day should be towards the father: reading, praying, and listening. Any other step, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s necessarily a wrong step, can be destructive if it takes us away from God. Kids, job, exercise. Thes are not bad things, until we use them as an excuse: I just don’t have time for God.
Whatever is most important to us, will be revealed in our behavior. Do we get up and check social media? Do we work out? What’s the most important? If it’s our faith, then every day, like Jesus, we must get up and take the first right step towards the father. If we don’t like where our lives are going, we must do whatever it takes to change direction. That starts with our first step every day.