Years ago, a man named John Edwin Daniels sought to inscribe his name in history by establishing a world record for long-distance walking.  His goal was to hike from the lower tip of Baja, California to the northern end of Maine.  The journey required ten months and he completed it on schedule.  When he arrived at his destination, newsmen and radio microphones were waiting to record his impressions upon completion of his well-publicized trip.  The announcer who conducted the interview asked: “Mr. Daniels, you have walked over 4,000 miles.  Tell us, during these past ten months what was your greatest obstacle?”  Daniel paused, obviously thinking about the question.  The impatient newsman sought to help him by saying: “Was it the blinding rain storm your encountered while crossing the Midwest?  Was your most difficult problem the searing sun of the desert? Or could it have been the gusty winds of the prairies?”  Then, the announcer and a vast listening audience waited for the reply.  Thoughtfully, slowly it came: “The biggest problem I had on the whole trip was the sand in my shoes!”

                Frankly, when we hear that, most of us have a tendency to smile or to laugh out loud.  The incident actually happened, and the longer we contemplate the answer the more realistic it sounds – – and not just in relationship to a diagonal hike across a continent.   Far more serious than any single obstacle to such a long-distance journey would be the day to day, seemingly minor “sand in the shoes.”

                Here is really the most serious problem facing any person – those little, daily ordinary irritations that comprise most of life.  They “wear away” at us; they tire us, discourage us, exhaust us, and finally they defeat us!

                Most of the tragic failures in living are not the result of any single momentary crisis!  We constantly reveal a remarkable ability to summon courage and strength for any singular challenge.  You may doubt this about yourself, but it is true in a great majority of cases.  We see someone else involved and engaged in some great crucible of testing and trial, and we are silently grateful it has come to them instead of us because we wonder if we could stand it!   But then, it does come to us and strangely enough we find some unknown, unrecognized source of strength and courage, and we emerge as “more than conquerors.”  What we are recognizing here is that we need to face the little ordinary, daily frustrations and to overcome them in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                 During Advent, let us remember that in Christ we find the faith and the grace that will enable us to meet and overcome the ordinary challenges of the days, weeks, and months before us.  We need God and His grace more than we think at times.  Let us use this Advent to rethink the necessity of God in our lives and do more to keep Him in our lives throughout the year.