I had a bad fall. I rolled my ankle, skinned my knee, twisted my hip and sprained my back. As an athlete and committed runner, I did not need a debilitating accident that forced me to stay down, broke my routine and drove me to despair. How did it happen? I run the same route, several times a week. I know the path very well. Most days, I switch on to automatic pilot as I run and pray for my family and needs of the day. On this certain day, I was extra tired. I hadn’t slept much the night before because I was angry. As a matter of fact, I was furious with someone close to me, causing me to be distracted, unfocused and careless. To be specific, I was not paying attention.
My responses were slow, my reactions delayed. So when I attempted to hurdle the small bump on the path, the toe of my tennis shoe snagged and instead of clearing an insignificant dirt clod, it brought me down to my hands and knees. Wouldn’t it have been great if there was a warning sign before I came upon the little bump in the road? Something like slow, detour, caution or even stop?
Let me tell you the warning signs I believe God had given me. I call them the ABCs of how to avoid a fall.
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19 (NIV)
Relationships scare me to death. As a former pastor’s wife, mother, employee and daughter, I learned early on how to please other people to avoid confrontation. For years, I thought peace at any price was worth more than my own personal harmony with God. I sold myself out, thinking my opinions didn’t matter. My ultimate goal was keeping people happy. I was dishonest when someone asked me to plan an event, knowing I didn’t have time, and yet I would say yes. Interested in the person’s opinion of me more than God’s, I ended up worn out, stressed and depressed.
Obedience to God results in peace, and peace with God is worth much more than people-pleasing. We need to remember to perform only for an audience of One. He asks to let Him show us how to trample the opinions of others, shake off the scorpions of peer pressure and walk in His strength.
Say no to others but yes to God. His opinion of you is the only one that matters. When you grab onto the truth God offers — the authority Jesus’ blood bought for you — He transforms your behavior to reflect your belief about God and how He sees you.
B. Be Still.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
I was struggling with a major decision and decided to go ahead and do it. When I did, I knew it was the wrong decision, but I did it anyway. There were red flags, a sleepless night and now regret. I wondered, Why did I do that? I wished I could rewind the time and do it over.
Making decisions is difficult. When in doubt, don’t move. We make hundreds of small decisions every day. Some are simple, others complicated. Some answers are obvious, some not so much. Often, strong opinions of others encourage us that we must do something. I don’t agree. If there is no peace, we must not move. If there is anxiousness, we must stay put. For most of us, this is difficult because we think moving along and doing something about a situation means we are working on solutions. Do not move if you don’t have peace. An uneasy conscience is the way the Holy Spirit speaks to us about what is best for us. We must hold close to truth and choose to believe God, take Him at His Word. It helps to stand on His promises, like Proverbs 29:25 (NIV), “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” When in doubt, don’t.
“There are two pains in life, discipline and regret,” said Wayne Cordiero. I decided then to be still and wait on God’s timing. This was a discipline I could live with. And for future major decisions, I’ve learned the hard way; waiting is worth it—no more regret.
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
The morning I fell down, I was distracted by an incident that happened the night before, involving a decision where I had not stood my ground. Using poor judgment, I compromised my convictions and lowered my standards. I was furious at the person involved, even thinking they wronged me. But more than that, I was fuming at myself for allowing “yours truly” to be duped. It’s easy to say or think what our convictions should be, but more difficult to implement them for everyday living.
I knew I must forgive the person who wronged me. However, I also must forgive myself. I threw myself into Psalm 51, read it aloud, allowing it to soothe my aching soul. Psalm 51:1-3 (NIV): “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” God had already covered over my sins with Jesus’ blood; I confessed my sin, wept before Him, thanked Him for His mercy. Instantly, peace flowed into my weary mind and helped my worn-out emotions receive relief.
Those of us who are completely committed to God need to understand God is on our team. He is always looking to support us. When we train our minds to ask God to forgive us, no matter how small our offense, He also helps us let go of grudges against others. With this act of submission and surrender, we give God permission to do whatever He wants with us. When God asks us to forgive, He gives us the ability to do it. “Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God,” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NCV). Even fallen saints who are fully committed can rise again to full restoration with God by receiving His grace and mercy through forgiveness.
So now, I am healed from the physical injuries and I am thankful for the emotional and spiritual lessons I’ve learned. Hopefully I will apply them and avoid falling again. “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls,” Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV).
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