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“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” – Abraham Lincoln, U.S. president from 1861 to 1865


President Lincoln’s statement prompts us to reflect on several dimensions of the truth about progress.


Walking forward is the best course. Our Creator made us in such a way that walking backward is awkward. Physically, it’s challenging. Emotionally, it’s counterproductive. Spiritually, it’s discouraging. Our bodies can trip if we attempt this. Our minds grow despondent if we fret about our past mistakes. It’s better to let God shape us by His glorious future, than to be shaped by our guilty past.  If we spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, we’ll miss the view through the windshield.


Good things take time. If we don’t do things right, we’ll have to find time to do them over. Things built rapidly fall apart easily. Loving relationships and sterling character traits do not develop overnight.

A slow pace is good for the soul.  Some Parke County Indiana covered bridges still have the saying “Cross this bridge at a walk” over their entrance. These words were placed there because of the presumption that trotting horses or marching Civil War soldiers might cause structural damage to the bridge. The words remind us that slowing down enables us to enjoy the beauty of life. Elijah did not hear God’s voice in the windstorm, earthquake, or fire, but in a gentle whisper. Driving on the Interstate can wear us out; to relax, we need to take an exit ramp now and then and travel a scenic byway—taking a walk is even better. When we turn off the comfort of noise, we open our hearts to God.  


Small steps in the right direction eventually add up to significant  moral and spiritual progress. Little things can be extremely important—a misplaced car key or a lost wedding ring is enough to drive home this point. Daily habits may seem inconsequential at the time, but over the years they can lead to disease or health.  


Spiritual maturity takes a lifetime. Character-building experiences combine with God’s work in believing hearts to sculpt us into Christ’s image. We’re a work in progress—incrementally, day by day, gradually, almost imperceptibly—we’re growing in Christlikeness.


“I don’t mean to say that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)


Johnny R. Almond

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Interim Pastor, Nomini Baptist Church; Montross, Virginia

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