Once again, I stumbled and fell. A few inches from the ground, I knew it was going to hurt. A fall is never fun, but I’m learning how to “catch” myself before much damage is done, or else recover after a painful fall.
I recently wrote an article on learning to walk with the Lord. I never thought much about what stumbling looks like in my Christian walk, yet it is inevitable in our Christian journey because we’re all sinners. But we don’t have to stay on the ground after we stumble and fall.
Why Do People Stumble?
It’s not unusual for babies to stumble and fall when they’re learning to walk, and they learn from those tumbles. But we can still take a tumble when we’re older.
Physically, we might stumble for a number of reasons. Some risk factors are health-related—struggles with weakness, vision problems, chronic illness, poor balance and even as a side-effect from certain medications. Everyday risks might be anything from tripping over a rug to wearing high heels! Circumstances we don’t expect can also challenge our strength or balance for a potential stumble. Certainly, aging can exacerbate some of these issues.
I think some of those risks might also apply spiritually. We can stumble when we fail to trust and delight in God and find our strength in Him, when our priorities get out of balance, or when we fail to see life from God’s perspective and end up making foolish choices.
There are always things in our Christian walk that come along to trip us up: temptations, the pull of sinful desires or learned habits, circumstances that challenge us, and maybe even wrongly-placed confidence when we lean on someone who fails us, our reputation, our accomplishments or material objects—and we come crashing down.
What Can Happen When We Stumble?
When we stumble, any number of things might happen. We might simply trip over something and “catch” ourselves so we don’t completely collapse. We might twist a muscle or sprain an ankle trying to avoid a fall. Or we might suffer the bruises, bumps or breaks from a hard fall.
Serious tumbles make us more cautious, maybe even fearful. We may lose some confidence and walk more tentatively than necessary. We might avoid frightening situations.
These are some of the consequences of spiritual stumbling as well: fear, insecurity and withdrawal from following hard after the Lord.
What Does Spiritual Stumbling Look Like?
Paul described Israel’s stumbling-and-recovering past to the Corinthian church and cautioned them: “Now these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us … So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” It pays to heed biblical examples and learn from them.
Christians can stumble in many ways. One of the quickest ways to fall is by exhibiting a “haughty spirit.” This is well known even in secular culture: “pride goes before a fall.” Spiritual stumbling is apparent when we walk in the flesh and by sight, rather than by faith.
Paul admitted temptation is common to all of us. We’re all stumblers. But he also said we can stand strong by taking the “escape” God provides. Sometimes that escape is simply learning from the Lord how to walk with more stability, holiness and peace.
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SOURCE: Crosswalk, Dawn Wilson