The badlands

Have you ever stood so close to a river bank, or perhaps the edge of a drop-off of some sort and then watched as the ground beneath you seems to just crack and fall away? In an instant that 'firm ground' you thought you were standing on was taken out from underneath you and you were slipping into an 'unknown' space. I have done both, finding myself covered in mud and wet to the core from slipping into the river, and sliding helplessly down a ravine on my backside until something could stop my descent. Footing is important - it grounds you. I recently explored the area known as "El Malpais" in New Mexico - the site of a large lava flow that has hardened over time. One thing that struck me about the landscape around me for miles and miles was the 'impenetrability' of that hardened lava flow. The floor of the desert was 'locked in' by that lava and as it hardened, it became what some may think of as 'impenetrable'. The most amazing thing has happened over time - there are cracks and crevices all beginning to be revealed. In this amazingly hardened place, what seemed impenetrable is not as 'rock solid' as one may have imagined.

You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm. (Proverbs 12:3)

We sometimes take for granted that what appears to be 'rock solid' in our lives is going to remain that way forever and ever. If time and trials are the testers of our faith, then let me assure you there is always room for a little 'fissure' of sorts that can end up making what once seemed 'rock solid' give way. We have to guard against the 'fissures' to our faith. A fissure is really nothing more than the separation of parts. Whenever we allow even the slightest separation of ourselves from God's presence, we begin to feel the effects of the fissure. The distance begins to widen until there is so great of a gap that it seems anything could knock us off our solid footing. Do you know what I observed in those 'fissures' within the lava flows? Desert plants began to spring forth - spiny, prickly, and bitter plants. Where the 'cracks' came, so did 'opportunistic growth'. Sin is like that in our lives - allow a bit of separation between God and us and you will see sin take root.

Do you know what "El Malpais" stands for? The badlands. Do you know why the small rivers of lava flowed freely in this area? The shifting of Rio Grande rift - allowing a 'fissure' of sorts to be created that resulted in the damaging lava escape. Allow any 'shifting' to occur in our stand in Christ and a 'rift' will be created that allows what will ultimately bring damage into our lives to happen. What starts out small may one day consume us, locking us in and holding us beneath its weight. Lava flows in an 'opportunistic' manner - surfacing, then flowing wherever there is no resistance to that flow. What did the natives in that area have to do as the lava began flowing freely in their valley? They had to move to higher ground - out of the path of the lava flow. 

Some of us need to move to higher ground in our lives - out of the path of what will only produce what will come to be labeled as Badlands in our lives. We didn't intend for the fissure to occur, but we don't want to stand around and wait for the things oozing forth from those places of separation to consume us either. Move to better ground - higher ground - a firmer footing. Yes, the ground may harden around us, but it doesn't need to lock us into its hardness and barrenness. We can stand on firmer ground - free of these fissures and barren areas where only 'prickly ' and 'bitter' things can grow. As I stood gazing over those miles and miles of hardened black lava flow, I questioned what was captive deep within it. Not everything escaped unscathed - there were indeed captive victims that did not escape. 

We 'see' hardness and what appears to be very good footing at times, but not everything that appears one way will prove to be as it appears. Test your footing - test the integrity of the structure upon which you base your life. If there is any fissure forming - take action to get back to the place of strong and solid footing. If there has been a deep fissure created by one compromise after another - walk to higher ground today. Don't remain where spiny and prickly, bitter growth occurs. Rise above the barrenness of that 'solid-appearing' stand and enter into the glory of the truly solid foundation only found as we draw near to God himself. Just sayin!

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