One Step Forward

Two Steps Backwards

Dall SheepI have often felt that higher math escaped me for some reason. I have an analytical mind, and I enjoy spending time working through mental challenges to arrive at an answer. Yet some of the math I was schooled in during high school of the 70’s never sunk into my mind.

Probably a lot of reasons for this!

However, while researching for a sermon the other day I began to think about the forward progress that the church, and each of us, should make in life. How to get from one point, to the next one, successfully. Moving ever forward, and not retreating into the past.

We have all heard the analogy, and it is used in many scenarios, about the futility of “taking one step forward and two steps backwards.” This paints the picture of forward momentum, but not forward progress.

Consider the math of this word problem (I know there is probably an algebraic formula for this but it’s beyond me to imagine it right now!) ((In programming I would write a function or routine to accomplish this until some condition was met.))

  • Start at “___”, then take “1” step forward
  • Immediately take “2” step backwards, and you end up at “___”
  • Repeat

So, when you go through this routine the first time you start at “0” and end up at “-1”. Cycle through the routine again and you start from “-1” and end up at “-2”. Cycle through the routine again and you start from “-2” and end up at “-3″…

Catch the drift? You may be making forward momentum with your effort, but you are constantly losing forward progress!

There was a day that a friend took me Dall Sheep hunting. We drove 150 miles, hiked in 7 miles through the tundra and muskeg to an old trappers cabin. We used this as our base to hike to the top of a 10,000 foot mountain in the Wrangell Mountains. I remember the struggle of climbing to the stop, and it truly felt like forward progress was slow with great effort applied to forward momentum.

Coming down the mountain you fought against forward progress (because that would have meant losing control and running down the mountain), but still angled for forward momentum.

Both climbing up and down, great effort was put into the hike – with a 70lb pack, and a rifle and balanced scope.

Hard either way!

All of this makes me stop and think about the forward progress we have made in our lives (past) and the future progress we want to make. Regardless of your goal, you need to get off the treadmill of accepting less than perfect results, and strive to reverse the trend of slipping backwards while trying to go forward!

Back to my hunting story for a close… We never saw anything legal to shoot, but we sure enjoyed the effort of the hunt! Beautiful mountains, bear scat everywhere, thick alder groves, beaver pond, and endless mountain peaks with no view of human habitation. Through hard work, even without a kill, I made great forward progress enjoying the beauty of Alaska!


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