Devotion for the Week...
I have really been enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having this fall, especially because it allows me to take the kids I babysit for a walk pretty much every morning. The more days we get out for a walk, the more sane I stay :) Right now I look after three kids, two 1 year olds who ride in a double stroller and an-almost three year old named Fiona who walks holding onto the stroller. I've looked after quite a few kids and Fiona seems to enjoy walking the most out of all of them (besides the ones in the stroller, who always love being out). Our normal walk takes close to an hour because we can only go at her pace, of course. But one morning she was singing as we were coming up to where I would normally turn to head back home, so I knew she was enjoying the walk, and it was such a beautiful morning I didn't want to go home, so we just kept on going. The extended route took 1 hour and 20 minutes, and she never once complained. Just before we got back in sight of the house, she did say, "I'm getting tired," which struck me as funny, because I was getting tired and she takes two steps to every one of mine!
There are a couple of places where we go down fairly steep hills and I have to be very careful about where Fiona is walking. Most of the roads in our small town don't have sidewalks, so we are walking on the road itself and there's a mix of sand and tiny pebbles on top of the pavement in places. If we're going down a steep hill we have to walk a step or two farther into the road (there really isn't much traffic, so this is perfectly safe) so that Fiona's feet aren't landing on that mix of sand and pebbles. Unfortunately, I discovered this because one day she did step on the loose pebbles and she skidded down and hurt her knee a bit.
Those pebbles don't look like much, but they are just enough to keep her little foot from making contact with the solid pavement. Then, when her weight shifts as she walks, the pebbles roll under her foot and she loses her footing.
Jesus had this to say about the difference between being on rock and being on sand: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The
rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against
that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the
everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into
practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (Matthew 7:24-27).
A house built on sand is not stable, it's going to fall as soon as a storm comes and pushes against the sand. But a house built on rock is not so easily moved. The same is true of our lives. Building our lives by following the teachings of Jesus requires moment by moment, decision by decision connection with Him.
Of course, we also often compare our lives to a journey, and so you can think of each of those moments, and each of those decisions, as another step on the road. The important question is, are we stepping on the solid pavement, or are we stepping on the loose rock?
The more we are connected to God, stepping on the solid pavement, so to speak, the less likely we are to slip and fall. We stay connected in any relationship by spending time with the other person, right? Well, it's the same spiritually speaking. We stay connected to God by spending time with Him, through bible reading and prayer.
There are times, though, when little pebbles get in the way and reduce our connection to Him.
I'm not talking about sin, but about the things that keep us from having a firm spiritual footing, which then makes us more prone to slipping into sin. What are these little things, you ask? Well, I can think of two.
First up is our constant state of busy. We are all trying to do so much, but there are only so many hours in a day and there's really no way to fit it all in. What falls off the schedule when there's not enough time for everything? Prayer and bible reading. At least, that's what happens for me. So all those things we have going on in our lives can act like little pebbles, getting in between us and God.
The second thing is our choices. You see, there are a lot of times when I tell myself that I don't have time to read my bible, but really it's that I'm choosing to spend my time doing other things. Do you see the difference? There are some things we have to do that are non-negotiable. Work and caring for our families are things that have to happen. But there are plenty of hours in a week that we fill with things we choose to do. Hobbies (reading and sewing are my biggest ones), TV watching, social media...these are things we choose to do. I have to admit that I'm quite prone to choosing other things over time in prayer or reading my bible.
On their own, the things we have to do and the things we want to do are not necessarily bad for us. They don't necessarily hurt our relationship with God or make us more likely to sin. It's when the pebbles accumulate to the point that we're no longer making sufficient contact with the solid pavement that our feet slip, and it's when we're no longer making sufficient contact with God that we slip spiritually.
Fortunately, the fix is simple. When I'm walking with the kids, I keep an eye on the ground ahead of Fiona's feet so that I can keep her feet on the solid pavement. Spiritually speaking, we need to keep our own feet on solid pavement by not allowing other things to keep us from spending time with God. Keeping that connection strong will keep us from slipping into sin.