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Monday, February 1, 2016

The noose gets tight, doesn't it?

What story are you writing?  A couple of weeks ago, our church handed out small wristbands which simply read "The Next Chapter".  As we all go through life, we are busy writing the story of our lives - we all leave a legacy - some good, some not as good.  What gets written in the pages of our lives is not always within our control, but most of the time, it is influenced by our response to what comes our way.  I think we can influence what gets written in the pages of the lives of those we are closest to - because we all have the opportunity to help someone up when they have fallen, restore them when they have made wrong choices, and carry their burdens when they are just too hard to carry on their own.

My spiritual brothers and sisters, if one of our faithful has fallen into a trap and is snared by sin, don’t stand idle and watch his demise. Gently restore him, being careful not to step into your own snare. Shoulder each other’s burdens, and then you will live as the law of the Anointed teaches us. Don’t take this opportunity to think you are better than those who slip because you aren’t; then you become the fool and deceive even yourself. Examine your own works so that if you are proud, it will be because of your own accomplishments and not someone else’s. Each person has his or her own burden to bear and story to write.  (Galatians 6:1-5 VOICE)

Too often, I think we "stand idle" - watching as someone spins out of control in their life.  We might just have the ability to keep them from falling, or at least guide them back up if they have!  If we believe what the Apostle Paul writes here, even the "faithful" have the potential of being "snared" and falling.  Do you know what a snare is?  It is anything which presents itself as an "allurement" - it is a "baited" thing designed to "catch" someone or something without them even knowing.  Rather than us condemning someone for being "stupid enough" to be snared by temptation, maybe we need to realize a snare is really designed to keep someone from knowing it is even there!

A snare is cleverly disguised - it isn't easily recognized.  No wonder it is so easy to fall into one because most of us go through life without really looking all that closely for things which might "trip us up" and leave us "hanging in the wind"! We just walk as though there were nothing going to trip us up!  My friend tells of the time I fell outside of the hospital, while walking on a completely level surface, spiraling out of control into the rocks by the path.  What she remembers most is how fast I got up.  What I remember most is how easily I fell and how quickly I realized the pain of the fall! We each have a different perspective of the fall - one because someone was falling headlong into a place of danger; the other because the fall was coming quicker than anyone could stop!

This is how it is with sin in our lives - sometimes we fall into it quicker than we might be able to stop.  Why?  We got too close to the edge!  We didn't recognize the snare - even though it was right there in front of us.  Some of the hardest things to see are the things closest to us.  If we keep in mind there are a ton of ways to fall, but fewer ways to actually get up, we might just stop criticizing each other for falling and start helping each other avoid the fall in the first place.  Think about it - there are only a few ways to get up, but thousands of ways we fall.  Do you know what makes a snare so hard to escape?  It is like a noose - the more you struggle to get out of it, the tighter it becomes.  The hold it has is not easily broken, so to get free, we need each other!  To be free of a noose, we need someone to "off-load" the weight pulling us down and making the noose even tighter.  When sin entangles us, we need someone to help "off-load" the weight in order for us to wriggle free of the "noose-like" hold it has on us!

If we are all writing the story of our lives, I want a few really important characters in my story line!  I want Jesus as my faithful companion, the one who actually helps give the richness and value to the story.  Then I want those who help me walk well, avoid stumbling, and are actually there to help me avoid the snares.  I also want them to be there when I get a little distracted by something and go headlong into the snare set to trap me up.  The legacy I leave will be written in those moments.  I don't want my legacy to say, "She walked alone."  I want it to say, "She walked with me."  First because I walked with Jesus and then because I walked with you! Just sayin!