It is said that getting older is not for the faint of heart. I’m beginning to understand that more and more each day. One of the things I have tried to do in my advancing years is to exercise on a regular basis. So in the hopes of being healthier and living longer, I rise at 525AM and head out for a run/walk. I try to do this six times a week, taking Sunday off, after all it is a day of rest.
I have ran in the same area for a few years now. I know my course like the back of my hand. I have landmarks where I can check my time to see if I am on pace or a little behind. I could do this in my sleep. If only that would work.
This time of year I have to use my head lamp to be able to see. For those of you religiously against being up at that time, it’s dark at that time of the morning. You can barely start to see light on the horizon and the moon and stars are still bright in the sky. For me it is one of my favorite times of the day and yes, I am well aware of my mental state or lack thereof.
As I walk out the door, I start my prayer/conversation time with God. I walk to a certain spot and then begin my run. I try to use this time to talk to God and share what is on my heart. Often times, He speaks to me and places thoughts in my mind that often find their way in these emails. I really miss being able to do this on mornings it is raining or I am traveling.
On Tuesday morning, I was not quite a half-mile into my run when I found myself rolling on the ground. It happened so quick I had no time to prepare. Before I knew it I found myself looking up at the stars wondering what just happened. I was running on a concrete path, there was no reason for me to be on the ground. So what happened? This is a path I have ran literally hundreds of times. I had never fallen before. Somebody must have put something in my path to cause me to stumble. There is no way I fell on my own. I’m too gifted an athlete just to fall on my own. This was somebody’s fault. It couldn’t be mine.
I got up and checked to make sure that all the appropriate parts were still in place and working and then proceeded on my way. Thankful that it was still dark and that I would be the only one to ever know about this. Except now I am writing about it of course. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what just happened. Wondered why did it happen? So when I was done with my run, I went back to that spot. There was enough light to see and I wanted to find something to blame for my tumble.
When I got to the spot I realized what had happened. There is a small lip next to the path that directs water toward a small stream. It’s always been there. I know it’s there. Never been an issue before, until this morning. And immediately I knew why it caused me to fall.
As I was running, in the dark, I let my mind wonder and started to look off the path that my head lamp had illuminated. I veered a little too far to the right and BOOM! Down goes Frazier! Dropped like a sack of rocks by a small concrete lip that I have always known was there. The reason I fell was that I lost focus, took my eyes off the path, not because something had been placed in my way.
Isn’t sin like that?
We are walking along the narrow path that Christ calls us to walk, then all of a sudden we have fallen into sin. We find ourselves thinking or doing something that we know we shouldn’t and then wonder how this happened. It happened because we took our eyes off the path, our eyes off Christ. The narrow path that we know is hard, lonely and sometimes dark, because Christ told us it would be that way. We begin to look for someone or something to blame but there is no one to blame but ourselves. We know better. Yet here we are.
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.” John 11: 9-10 (NIV).
When I realize how many times I stumble and fall each day, it’s a sobering thought. Some days too many to count. Many times I stumble over the same sin repeatedly. Then the rationalization begins. I tell myself that I’m not hurt. No harm, no foul. Nobody else saw it. I’m good. I won’t do that again. Only to find myself right back in the same spot. I can just picture God shaking his head wondering if I will ever get it. I am so thankful that He is patient and that His mercy and grace abound.
Often I want to blame my sin on others or new things that I wasn’t prepared for. But that’s just more rationalization. The truth is the blame lies on me. I know I should keep my eyes on Jesus. I know I should fill myself with His Word. I know He walks with me. I know I should be on guard and to protect myself. I know. You know. We know.
“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13 (NIV).
Yet here I am, down on the ground, looking up, wondering what just happened. When I know what happened. I gave in to the temptation, took my eyes off Jesus and BOOM! Just like Ali punching Frazier, sin has punched me off the path. I saw the punch coming, knowing what would happen, and stood there anyway.
Jesus has already taken these punches, He has already overcome the obstacles that cause us to stumble. We must rely on Him, Him alone. We must keep our eyes on Him. We must stop snatching a life of sin from the jaws of a victorious life in Christ!
“They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for.” 1 Peter 2:8b (NIV).
Run with your focus on Christ to the cross!