Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Warning! Watch Your Step!

If someone were to tell me to "watch my step" I would begin to be very cautious about where it was I found my footing.  On many stairwells, passageways, hiking paths, and the like, we might encounter this warning. The advisory is put there for our safety - because the climb is steep, or the sudden change in "evenness" of the ground we are traveling is unpredictable. This is often the case as we traverse through this life, isn't it?  Some things are just harder than others; some might catch us a little unaware. Sometimes we might get our knees a little bunged up along the way - but trust me, it usually is not because we lacked the warnings!  We likely just didn't heed them!  God's plan is not to trip us up or wear us out on the journey, but to bring us to our next destination "unscathed" and "safe"!  

So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul. (Hebrews 3:12-14 MSG)

There are more things in this daily walk with Jesus which actually serve as "tripping" points than we might imagine.  You see, Satan doesn't want heaven filled - he wants hell filled!  He wants companions in his eternal misery and doom - not a one of us escape his attempts to trip us up, or bring discouragement in our journey.  Maybe this is why we get the phrase "Misery loves company" - because no one wants to really endure doom and gloom all by themselves!  If we know this up front in our walk, then it is easier for us to be on the alert for the warning signs posted for us along the way.  If we know there might just be some "unevenness" meant to trip us up - giving all manner of a lack of predictability to our journey - we might just prepare for the journey, be on alert as we travel this path, and be sensitive to the warning posted!

Remember, none of these tripping points is put there by God - he doesn't put obstacles in our way - he removes them!  When we face obstacles in our path, it is either because we have put them there ourselves, or we are being challenged by the hosts of hell to not make the journey successfully.  How do we put obstacles in our own path?  It really isn't all that hard.  We might not prepare for the journey ahead, thinking we can just launch out into the unknown, and then we wonder why we stumble around a little.  Preparation means we align our hearts and minds with the heart and mind of Christ - we get with him on the matter at hand, allowing him to point us in the right direction we are to take.  We might do this with time in the Word, a little time in worshipful consideration of what we have learned, and then simply by asking him for his direction (not his advice).  There is a difference between asking for advice and then asking for direction.  One is optional, the other gets us to the destination!  Sometimes I think we treat God's warnings as "advice" rather than as imperatives in our lives - but whenever we do, we usually encounter some issue within the path!

The whole purpose of the pathway challenges (according to Satan's plan) is to divert us from God - it is a detour, but not one with a planned return to the original course we were traveling.  The detour he plans is designed to get us so off track we are basically lost in the process.  The whole purpose of pathway challenges (according to God) is to grow us up in our dependence upon him to protect, provide, and promote us.  He points out the hazards, reminding us to "watch our steps" - allowing him to "order" them - in order to protect us.  He also desires to provide for us - keeping us well in the journey and focused on what is best for us in the process.  All in all, he desires to "promote" us to a higher level of both dependence upon him and closeness to his heart.  In turn, we become stronger men and women, exemplifying the character of Christ more and more with each step.

Sin slows us down - and this whole idea of sin is what often is the tripping point in the journey.  Sin's little compromises are the small pebbles we stumble upon - but we almost always are looking for the huge rocks in our path.  The smallest pebble can turn the most unsuspecting ankle, causing unnecessary pain and suffering!  We don't want to focus just on the big stuff in our path - excluding the reminders to be alert to the small stuff.  We want to be aware of both.  Most importantly, we want to help each other out with this "alertness" to the hazards in our path.  This is what some refer to as holding each other accountable.  In the most literal sense, it is one watching the steps of another, being alert to the smallest hazards, as well as the glaring boulders!  We often don't see the little hazards - for we focus too far ahead in the path.  One walking alongside can see the place we are about to walk better than we sometimes can - heeding their warnings is often the very thing we need the most!

We all start out this Christian walk with the same "stuff" for the journey.  God doesn't "slight" any of us and then "embellish" someone else.  In fact, he loves all equally and unconditionally.  He provides for all equally and abundantly.  He responds to all equally and with absolute authority.  The path may be different - but our provision and source are the same.  I cannot overlook the importance of "companions" in this journey.  No man or woman is truly an island unto themselves.  We might think we can walk alone, but trust me on this - I have tried it and it doesn't work.  I need the one next to me in this journey!  I need their constant reminders and their warnings.  In fact, God put them there just for this purpose - so why not embrace their presence as a provision directly from the hand of God?   Just sayin!

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