227/366 | Stumbling Block

August 16, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Photo for Aug 14, 2020

When I committed to walking 1 mile a day three years ago, there were some issues to overcome. First, I had to build up to that distance by losing weight and convincing myself that I wouldn't die in the process. I also had to adopt healthier eating habits. It was dicey in the beginning and I HATED doing it. Detested every second! The "steps" to get there were hard, but I was determined to succeed. I could only walk around the block the first week since I had zero stamina. Each day I pushed myself farther, and each day became easier.

On one of the first days I achieved a mile (huge mile"stone"), I tripped on a small protrusion in the sidewalk as I was returning home. The very tip of my shoe caught it and I went flying, arms flailing like one of those crazy air dancers at the oil change place. As I was propelled forward, gravity finally claimed me, and I skidded, hands outstretched, shredding my palms on the pavement. At that moment, I was more humiliated than anything. Until I saw the blood. There was so much blood, and I had a whole mile to walk before I could get back to the house to clean up and assess the damage. All I could do was carefully wipe my hands on some grass in an empty lot. I bled the entire mile home, blood running down my forearms as I tried to keep them upright. I can't imagine what I must've looked like to passersby, but no one offered to help. I made it home and bandaged the wounds, but it took two weeks for my palms to heal. And believe you me, I was very cautious on walks thereafter.

That experience reminds me of my spiritual walk with God, with so many parallels. The path I choose, avoiding obstacles, staying safe, getting to know the routes, and building confidence. If I'm not careful, indiscretions, no matter how small, interferes with the relationship I have with our Creator. Known to backslide and constantly prone to sin, it’s frustrating to still be so imperfect 32 years after accepting Christ into my heart. Not only are there temptations and sin to deal with, it's imperative to adopt daily devotions and prayer time each day, just like my nutrition plan. What I feed my brain is just as important as what I feed my body. If God isn't my primary focus I'll fail; if I eat junk food, my body suffers. If I fail to be disciplined in crucial areas, I drift away and feel separated from God. Mind and body will pay the price.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

All sin is to be avoided, some more obvious than others. It's easy to take note of the massive ones and avoid them like the plague. Murder, adultery, stealing, etc. Sometimes it's just a pebble that can send me off in the wrong direction. An unkind word, a critical spirit, neglecting to do good when it’s in my power to do so. The Holy Spirit has made me super sensitive to sin. A rude or insensitive remark said in haste will leave me filled with regret for days. Every day I confess my transgressions and ask for mercy, promising to do better. God is sanctifying me slowly, but surely. After all, He knows our flaws and struggles all too well.

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekial 36:26 (NLT)

Some days I want to give up. I fail far too often. I want to give up on the grueling walks (especially in summer) and even give up on my spiritual journey. But I see how far I have come. I've lost 30 pounds and have so much energy. I'm now walking 5+ miles every single day and look forward to it! That's the physical side. Spiritually, I'm stronger, more grounded in faith and hope, most days. God has not let me down yet. And He will not because the Holy Scriptures tell me so. And I believe in God's Word with all my heart. I pray for strength to endure, and grace to accept the burdens I carry where there’s no relief in sight. I pray to finish the race, to not give in to temptation, to be strong and courageous like Joshua.

God also loves a joyful, thankful heart, and I find that He is more apt to answer prayers when I am expressing gratitude, especially thankful for the gift of Jesus. There is always something to be grateful for, even if I’m having a bad day or week or month sometimes!

God often shows Himself to me in nature. Maybe that's why I love being outdoors, seeing all the wonderful things He has made. This is where I connect with my Creator. The beauty and miracle of His handiwork lifts my spirits and fills me with awe. Often, during heart wrenching moments, a beautiful butterfly will float by and I’m reminded that God will transform me just like He did with that butterfly. Or a colorful songbird will appear seemingly out of nowhere, perch on a limb and sing his heart out, lifting my spirits. All He has made is miraculous and designed to give us hope. The belief that this world came from nothing is too nonsensical to even consider. There is a natural order, made by a loving Creator who is gently calling us to Himself.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NIV)

Let us pray for one another, edifying and building up the Body of Christ as He commissioned us to do. Be well and be at peace. And watch out for any stumbling blocks. Amen. 227/366227/366Stumbling Block
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