When I said, “My foot is slipping!” Your unfailing love, O Eternal One, held me up. When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many, Your comfort lightens my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19 VOICE)
Martin Luther King said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." We have a moment of success and feel like we are standing on the top of the world - as though nothing could "undo" the feeling we are riding high on for that moment in time. We also all know just how fleeting "riding" on success can be - for nothing soars forever - all things must return to ground level! Comfort and convenience can be the enemies of challenge and controversy as much as the other way around. We don't want to move when we are comfortable, much less find ourselves in a position in which we might actually feel the footing going out from underneath ourselves! It is the moments of near "slippage" that we come to know how sure our footing in life really is, though.
When challenge and controversy come your way - where do you stand? What motivates you to continue in the midst of doubt and frustration? Who is it you look to for advice, direction, and solutions to the thing standing clearly in your path? Much of what we "go through" in life is really that - something we will get to the other side of eventually - but to get through, one must move! We all know worries can be the enemy of movement - we might just tend to think of worrying as "running in place". We want an escape, so we run, but we just run in place, making a rut in the place we are standing. Worrying "wears down" the space because we tend to spend too much time allowing it to "rub us raw"! A challenge is what we enter into whenever the authority we are submitted to and live under is challenged. A controversy is that moment in time when we recognize we are in direct opposition to whatever it is we are facing - either because we are standing on the right side of the argument, or the wrong side of it.
We can either embrace God harder and closer as we face the challenge and deal with the controversy, or we can choose to weather it on our own. Truly, we might just find the things which prove to be the best challenges and hardest controversies manage to sort themselves out, bringing clarity and purpose into our lives just because of how close they brought us to realizing we don't walk them alone! Look again at what our psalmist wants us to see in this passage - it isn't that we face the challenge, or deal with the controversy - it is that we admit we are not able to stand alone - our foot is slipping. Every now and again, while I am on a daily walk with my BFF, she reminds me to not fall. You see, she was there the day I almost face-planted on the hard gravel outside our building. She saw me moving so quickly toward the ground nothing could stop my descent. She and I still laugh when we think about me hitting those rocks with the full weight of my body and then bouncing up quickly so no one would see me! But something she does that even lightens my spirit more than bringing me to see the levity of that moment is when she sees me slipping in my spiritual life, the way I am dealing with an issue, or even when I am just grumbling through life - the moment she helps me realize my footing isn't all that great.
You see, we don't always understand where our feet are planted until we need to reach out for something to catch onto when we are about to slip! It is at the point of realizing our footing is giving way that we reach out. Isn't it important to know when we need a stronghold to strengthen our stand that stronghold is actually the arms of Jesus? Just askin!
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