I could tell that our commanding officer was having us move faster than usual. Thankfully, I was used to hiking the trails that we were on. I had just spent six months training and hiking more than 150 miles through hilly and dense woods. I knew that I was well prepared and more than capable of physically making the climbs and completing our 15-mile hike. That was until I started to feel a pain that I had never felt before. Every step that I took in my combat boots was like stepping into heaping piles of blazing coal.
The darkness of the night masked the mountain trail that we were on so that I couldn’t see how far we had come or how far we had left to go. “Suffer in silence,” is an order I had barked at so many Marines in the past and one that I was quickly finding impossible to comply with. I wondered if any of the other 273 lieutenants in the hike formation were also suffering in silence.
The late October wind carried the sound of radio static from a captain hiking just behind me. I heard the cool voice of my commanding officer calling us to halt; a fact verified by an abrupt stop in the march and the muzzle of my weapon striking the thigh of the man in front of me. This was a routine stop and one that would allow me to drop my 100-pound pack, strip off my gear, and check on whatever was left of my feet. At this point, I was thankful for the low moon illumination which was now masking my scowling face as I began to peel off my socks.
It was not pretty. Both of my heels had developed severe blood-filled blisters and were extremely sensitive to the touch. With disdain, I examined the rest of my feet and shone a small light into my boots. Apparently, the interior of my boots had cracked leaving a jagged piece of hard plastic to stab each of my heels every time I took a step. That would have been a good thing to note before I put them on that morning. “How could this be happening to me right,” I mumbled, feeling sorry for myself. Our company had only completed three miles of our 15-mile graded hike and I was ready to give up.
The little things make a big difference.
It’s been said that it isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out- it is the pebble in your shoe. I had spent months preparing my mind and body for the gruesome 15-mile hike and was truly confident in my abilities to complete it. But a small detail that I had ignored and overlooked wrecked my confidence and effectiveness.
Oftentimes we will find that it is the small things in life that will bring us down and take us out. We wrongfully get hyper-focused on the big ‘thing’ ahead and miss the minor details that matter most. We want to climb to great social status, but don't work on our sense of self-worth. We want to grow successful businesses, but disregard the importance of integrity. We strive to build a healthy marriage but forget the small virtue of patience.
Bro, this is me, and maybe, just maybe, this is you too. If it is, I want to invite you to do some introspection. The last thing that you will want to do is to put in all of this work just to be derailed a few months from now by the tiny things that you’ve ignored. But introspection on your own is simply futile. You have access to the Holy Spirit to do the real digging and revealing.
Get To Work.
In your prayer time bring your plans and goals before the Lord and ask God, "What are the pebbles in my life that I am not seeing?" Pray as David when he said,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Take note of whatever the Holy Spirit reveals to you and write them down. This is important. You are not going to be able to last on the long journey with these small things digging at your heel, trust me! I want you to pay close attention to the ones that stick out to you the most. When do you think these pebbles got in there? What areas of your life have they been affecting the most. Now, if your list gets long don't get overwhelmed. God's grace is sufficient and He is willing to get them out of your life. Keep putting in the work.
Continue to march.