”I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling.” John 16:1
Kept from Stumbling
I just wasn’t paying attention. Walking down the dirt road, I was too busy looking at the scenery. The mountains, the massive cedars, the eagle flying high in the sky. It was breathtaking! So much so, that I turned my head to look at all the trees and, not seeing the rock in my path, I stepped on the rock with my right foot, turning my ankle. Fortunately, I was moving forward so my weight landed on that ankle only momentarily. I caught myself, stopped and rubbed my sore joint. The sprain was light enough that I was able to complete my walk. But my stumbling took me out of my pace and was accompanied by pain.
I think that is what Jesus is trying to help us avoid when he refers to his teaching to “keep us from stumbling.” Jesus, of course, is referring to an even more serious stumbling – spiritual stumbling. Spiritual stumbling leads to personal pain, slows us up in life and exacts its own measure of time and energy. Spiritual stumbling is giving into temptation.
Temptation comes to all of us… and all of us stumble. The problem is that much of our stumbling could be avoided if we were willing to heed our Savior’s teaching. Personally, most of my spiritual stumbling occurs when I forget to love – God or others. When that happens I get lost in myself – like running and getting lost in momentary beauty of my own mind. The problem with that is that it usually means that someone else will experience the consequences of my stumbling – either directly or indirectly.
Isn’t it wonderful that our Lord cares enough about us to want to protect us from stumbling whenever possible? The commands of Christ are not for his sake… they are for our sakes. The sinless one certainly doesn’t need the commandments, but we sinners do. And when we understand that, then the motivation for our keeping them, for paying attention spiritually, changes.
I know I’ll stumble again… sooner or later. So will you. But the Savior will be there to love us, heal and restore us and send us out into life again.
What a rich promise of grace.
Prayer: Lord, keep my feet from stumbling, so that I don’t hurt myself or others. Renew me by your grace which is always looking out for me. Amen
In our Savior,