There are few things I enjoy more than going for long walks with my wife Karen.

We try to walk every day. During our walks we take the time to talk through our days and our dreams. We soak in the beauty of nature surrounding us. But more than anything we just enjoy being with each other. We walk in all kinds of weather. We can be seen wearing shorts and sandals or bundled up like arctic explorers. We have been caught in downpours and laughed our way through gale force winds.

There may only be one thing that can ruin a walk with my beloved and that’s a pebble in my shoe. The size of the pebble doesn’t seem to matter. More than once I’ve been shocked to dig the little culprit out and find it’s almost microscopic. I’ve tried to keep walking, but with each step the irritation grows until all I can think about is the pebble in my shoe. It doesn’t matter that I’m with my favorite person doing one of my favorite things. The pebble has the power to take away all the joy I should be experiencing. So, I stop, and I take the time to remove the pebble so that I can get back to the joy that awaits.

I have found the same principle to be true with my spiritual life. I usually really enjoy spending time with Jesus in the morning. I wake up looking forward to pouring myself a cup of coffee and heading to my chair, cradling my coffee in both hands while I say, “Good morning” to the One who loves me and gave himself for me. It’s a good moment.

There are times when I get up from my time with Jesus and with each step I take I feel something bothering me. I have found that Jesus can be sneaky. While I’m drinking my coffee and reading my Bible he is busy slipping a pebble in my shoe. He knows I can’t go too far without stopping to figure out what he’s done and more importantly, what he wants me to do.

I’ve gotten a little more used to it as I’ve gotten older. If joy seems like it is unusually evasive I stop to find out if Jesus is trying to get my attention. More often than not he is.

I don’t know if you have a pebble in your shoe today or not. I kind of hope you do so I’m not alone. If Jesus is asking you to do something you’ve been putting off, then my advice is to go ahead and do it. Jesus never puts a pebble in there for nothing. Don’t take another step and miss the joy that is all around.