Stumbling Over Preventable Obstacles

I recently heard a pastor jokingly refer to his driving record, saying that if everyone would only drive as fast and good as he did, we would all get to our destinations quicker and more efficiently.  As a somewhat overconfident and delusional driver, I also tend to feel that I am similarly competent and accident-proof.  When my spouse is in the car, and she rolls her eyes at some sort of road miscommunication between myself and another driver, I am quick to point out that I’m an excellent driver and couldn’t possibly cause an accident. Taking my claim with a grain of salt, she reminds me that I need to not only think about my own driving but also the driving of others.  Even though I may be doing (close to) the right thing, other people could pose a threat.  Sometime we tend to get wrapped up in our own world and need to pay attention to what is going on around us, because sometimes, despite how good we may think we are, things get in our way that we should have seen coming.  My most recent manifestation of this principle stems from a recent jog.  I had been running six miles (three miles out, three miles back), and I was at the halfway point of the run, the furthest point from the beginning.  I had found a good pace, smooth movement, and a great rhythm.  As the sidewalk ended, it lowered itself gradually down to the street, but the curb had a good two-inch lip to it.  My left foot caught that lip hard, and I went right down.  I scraped up my two palms, left elbow, right knee, and had enormous bloody scrapes on my stomach from the road.  After muttering a most unprintable word, I analyzed the damage and decided to tough it out and run back.  I spent that return time trying to figure out what went wrong.  I was doing everything right, but when an obstacle was placed in front of me, none of that righteousness mattered.  I was so busy making sure that I was correct in all that I did that I didn’t think to look around me and make sure that other factors wouldn’t cause me to stumble.   The Bible calls us to be aware of our surroundings, attentive to what occurs so that we may not stumble as a result of our environment.  1Peter 5.8 commands us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  As a driver, I need to look several steps ahead of myself and consider all possible scenarios.  As a runner, I need to pay attention to the next several feet in front of me, as problems along the route may await me.  As a Christian, we need to look past ourselves and think about the people around us, the places we inhabit, and the things we own, making sure that these people, places, and items won’t cause us to stumble.  We need to look ahead and avoid situations that won’t work in our favor.  Recovering alcoholics know enough not to enter a bar, no matter how strong they think they are: they can see far enough down the road to know that the possibility of destruction lies there, so they will take actions to avoid that outcome.  And we need to act with that same mentality.  This week, look at the people, places, and things that, if given the right circumstance, will cause you to stumble, and then look to cutting those factors out of your life.  A strong and healthy awareness of the dangers that surround you will be all the prevention needed to avoid a mighty fall.  Amen.

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