Friday, January 16, 2009

#24 A Missed Step

"...for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble..." 2
Peter 1:10

Do you like stairs? I must be very honest with you all and admit that I do
not like stairs. Why? Well, there are several reasons actually. But
mainly, the older I get the more my knees complain when I force them to
climb stairs. There once was a day that climbing stairs did not bother me,
but while I was in basic training for the Army I began to feel discomfort in
my left knee when we would run. That discomfort grew into agonizing pain as
training progressed. It became so bad for a while that I feared that I
would not be able to pass my final physical fitness test to graduate from
basic training. I was allowed to wear a brace that kept things where they
were supposed to be and I finished up with no problems. Ever since that
time I can feel the pain creeping back in if I overdo things. So I try to
be careful with my activities. Some times when I get really worn down
though I get careless and I do not take the care to place my steps exactly
as I should. As for any of us, this can be dangerous under the right

The house that my family lives in is a two-story stone house that was built
in 1901. Apparently the people who lived during that era were very adept at
climbing steep narrow stairwells because that is exactly what they built in
this house. The stairwell is so narrow and steep in fact that we could not
even get a queen-sized box springs up the stairs. We had to bring it in
through the second story window while standing in the bucket of a front-end
loader. That was quite an experience. Ginger and I have already determined
that we will leave the box springs for the next residents when we vacate the
house. Please do not get me wrong. We love our home. It is very homey and
has a ton of character that has only gotten better with the passing years,
but the stairs, oh the stairs, may be the death of us all. Since our
arrival in August of last year each of the five members of our family,
except me, has fallen down the stairs in some form or fashion. It began
with my daughter and went through both the boys until it happened to Ginger
too. I praise the Lord that there have been no serious injuries. A few
bruises on the body and the pride have been the extent of it. Up until last
evening I had escaped a tumble. I suppose the law of averages had to catch
up with me sooner or later and later turned into sooner just last night. I
went up stairs to tuck the kids in and say good night and then headed back
down stairs to wrap up my work for the day. I was doing great until I got
to the very bottom of the stairs where the landing begins. When I stretched
out my foot to meet the landing I stepped beyond the center of the landing
to the outside edge. At nearly the speed of light-or so it felt-I slammed
to the landing coming to rest on the southern-most portion of the middle of
my body. Fortunately for me, I have grown some extra padding there over the
years and it served me well when I had my close encounter with the landing.
My instinct reaction was to put my hand down to try and catch myself, but
this only served to jam my wrist into the step behind me. I was very
thankful that, just like the rest of my family, I sustained no injuries
worthy of mention.

As I think about our Christian walk. I know that it too can be filled with
very dangerous climbs and pathways. The metaphor of a walk is used in
Scripture (Deut 10:12; Eph 4:1) because we are not supposed to just sit
still. Walking implies that we are to go somewhere with Christ. In fact,
Jesus told each of us when He gave the Great Commission to, "Go..." He does
not intend for us to sit and not be active. Christians cannot be successful
in this life if they are static or stagnant. We must keep moving and going
where the Lord leads us. As we accept this challenge we should realize that
Jesus will never ask us to go where He will not go with us by the power of
the Holy Spirit. He promised to always be with us "...even to the end of
the age." (Matthew 28:20) This is a promise that each one of us should take
to heart. We should fearlessly and faithfully go wherever God's call takes
us. Are there going be valleys? Yes. Will there be steep mountains filled
with dangerous pathways? Yes. Will there be dark, shadowy strong-holds of
Satan that need to have the Light of the World brought to them? Yes. No
matter where we are called we must be willing to go. Along the way we may
even encounter some stairs. In a dream Jacob saw a ladder that reached all
the way to heaven (Gen 28:12). Upon that ladder he saw angels moving up and
down. This vision was given to Jacob the very night that the Lord promised
to bless Jacob and his descendants (Gen 28:14, 15).

As you read the rest of Jacob's story you will discover that he fell
occasionally as he climbed his own ladder or stairway of life. The same
happens to each of us that commit to follow Christ. We will face
challenges. We will have times when we become tired and careless and
perhaps want to just give up. During those times of challenge and stress we
will be tempted to become careless perhaps. If we are not careful we will
fall and it may take days, months, or even years to regain the ground that
we lost when we fell. In 2 Peter chapter 1 Peter gives guidance to his
readers in an attempt to keep them from falling. He says we should seek
Christ in, "applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge,
self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your
perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in
your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are
increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful..." He goes on
to say that practicing these things will keep us from stumbling (2 Peter
1:10). It is not that we can work to keep ourselves in line, but when we
fully surrender to Christ and follow the counsel He has given us for our
lives then we will come into harmony with Jesus' guidance for our lives.
Friends, it will only be by God's grace that we will encounter fewer and
fewer missed steps in this life.

Dear Father God,
As we come to You just now we sense our intense need of a Savior. A Savior that can keep us from falling as we live the Christian walk. Father, we know that there are many opportunities for us to stumble if we stray from Jesus' side so we would ask just now that You keep us close by His precious side. It is only as we are connected with our High Priest, Jesus Christ, that we will be able to stand in these last days of earth's history. Our souls bear the bruises that only You can take away Father.
Please allow the balm of Gilead to provide the healing that we each one so
desperately need. Jesus, our master physician, knows our every need and He
will surely heal us from all sinful affliction if we surrender fully to Him.
We thank You for hearing our prayer just now and we thank You that You have
promised to direct our paths. It is in the mighty name of Jesus that we
pray, Amen!

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