Brothers and sisters, if someone you know loses his way and rebels against God, pursue him in love and bring him back to the truth. Know this: If you turn a sinner back from the error of his ways, then you will rescue him from the grips of death and cover the pain and consequences of untold sins. (James 5:19-20 VOICE)
It is easier to lose our way than to find it! I recently finished up a week away in the cooler north country here in Arizona. I got to enjoy a week of hiking some pretty beautiful trails with my BFF. As we explored those trails, some were well-marked with blue triangles prominently displayed in the trees ahead. These were well-traveled, well-marked trails. There were a couple of times we blazed our own, I think! It looked like we'd end up where we wanted to be, but we'd find ourselves facing way too steep of a climb or descent, or maybe even boxed in with rocks and debris. There were several times we just turned back, reset our focus on the trail markers, and abandoned the way we had been trying to go. Why? We weren't going to go "good places" the way we were headed!
At first, each one of those trails looked "promising", but in very short order they proved otherwise. My BFF and I are not these all-out experienced backwoods kind of gals, willing to try our luck at traversing territory not well-traversed by others. We enjoy the hiking, views, and occasional siting of natural wonders, but we aren't much at taking risks when it comes to the great outdoors! On the other hand, we don't want to miss an opportunity to experience something breathtaking, either. It is indeed a fine line between maintaining our "safety" and truly experiencing life to the fullest. Most of life is like that - we want to push ourselves to see what we can see, experience the stuff of life to the fullest, and get as much out of each day as possible. The problem is that we sometimes push way beyond our the place of safety in life and experience painful things in the process.
When we cross the line into those areas marked out as "unsafe", we often get hurt - spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically. Relationships are left in shambles, dreams are crushed, and hopes seem to vanish that we will ever be the same again. The problem is that we aren't supposed to be the same after some of this stuff - God wants to help us be even stronger than we were when we went through it! He uses the bad stuff to give us the "fiber" by which we grow strong and upright. There is something powerful that happens when we begin to share the story of how that fiber was placed into our lives - it unlocks the passageway by which others may experience the same freedom and growth we have!
I love that Jesus used stories in his day-to-day teaching. He knew those stories helped people connect with the grace and love of God the Father. Just as he shared from the experiences of real life, we can do the same for each other. We'd like to cover-up our missed steps, but God may just want to use them to illustrate the power of his grace and the totality of his redemptive power! We might find our failures a matter of embarrassment, but he sees them as stepping stones by which others may find their way safely into the place of healing! Just sayin!