One Mile at a Time

The ruthless clang of the telephone shattered the wee morning calm, dragging me from dreamland bliss and hurling me into what was to become a living nightmare. The news brought by the voice on the other end left me numb, void of emotion and pain. I couldn’t cry. I was holding to tightly to the hope that someone would pop up any moment and cry out “April fools!” But it never happened. Little did I know that I was about to learn one of the most important lessons of my life!

My parents had been Rving across the United States at the astounding rate of 10 miles per day. This “breath-taking” speed was necessitated by the fact that my dad was crossing the country, from San Diego, California to Jacksonville, Florida, on foot!

Their odyssey, lovingly christened “Hoofin’ it Coast to Coast at 65”, was the realization of a lifelong dream, and my dad was well on the way to its completion. He had already braved the desserts of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. He had spent four dusty months putting Texas’ 892 long miles behind him. He had whizzed through the whine of Louisiana’s mosquitoes in just 33 days, and had traversed most of Mississippi’s highway 90. He would have crossed into Alabama on his very next run, but a killer heart attack cheated him of his goal.

As I boarded the plane for Mississippi, the nightmare intensified. It haunted me through the endless phone calls to family and friends, tagging along as I went through the motions of making the incessant, gloomy arrangements. There were so many decisions! What funeral home to use; which flowers to order; who would perform the ceremony; what would be the order of service . . . Would it ever end? But when it was finally finished, I found that the days had passed in such a melancholic blur that even the memory of them was stolen from me!

One event, however, does stand out in my mind. It was the day my brother and I ran dad’s final 10 miles. It was easy enough for him. He’s a marathon runner. But for some insane reason, when he set out that Sunday morning, I was running with him, and I was beaten before I started! The most I had ever run was 6 miles, and that was 15 years earlier! The idea of running 10 whole miles at one time just about made me turn back after the first 50 feet. But in the distance I could see the support vehicle—my parents’ pick-up—parked on the side of the road at the first mile marker. I knew that my mom would be behind the wheel, loaded down with water and Gatorade, high-energy snacks, and plenty of encouragement. This sight was enough to get me through the first mile, and after a brief rest and a drink, I was a new person, ready to attack mile #2!

I had often asked myself just what it was that had kept my dad going all of those miles, but now I knew. It was sight of that support vehicle at each mile marker. It was the knowledge that refreshments, smiles, and encouraging words were never more than a mile away.

As I pondered this, I realized that this was a pattern he had followed throughout his life. He had accomplished many impossibilities by breaking them down into manageable steps. He had lived his life the same way he had covered the distance from San Diego, California to Pascagoula, Mississippi: One mile at a time!

I completed my dad’s final 10 miles that day, and more. When our finish line left us just 8 ½ miles from the state line, my brother and I decided to bring dad’s odyssey into Alabama. Though I rode out 4 of those last miles, the sense of accomplishment nearly drowned out my aching limbs. I had done the impossible. I had run 14 ½ miles, and I had done it one mile at a time!

Doesn’t Jesus encourage us to do the same? Matt 6:34 says: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” The next time you feel overwhelmed by the circumstances in your life, remember the lesson I learned from my dad. Put your future in God’s hands and live you life the way my dad did: One mile at a time!

Lyn Chaffart copyright 2004

Besides being a part-time Speech Pathologist, Lyn is a homeschooling mom who writes devotionals and short stories in her spare time. She also serves as the director of mini-sermons for Answers2Prayer Ministries ( ) and is webmaster for Scriptural Nuggets ( ). Besides writing for Answers2Prayer, Lyn has also written devotionals and stories for Eternal Ink, write2theheart, and the Sand Dollar.

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