By Jenna Ebener
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
During winter, I have learned the value of having traction on my shoes in the form of little spikes. These spikes give me confidence when I am walking on icy terrain. Without them, I take baby steps over the ice, being extra cautious so I don’t suddenly slip. With traction, while I am still cautious, I can walk confidently in the knowledge that the spikes will keep me safe. However, one day, I did not notice that the traction on one foot had fallen off in the snow. I took a step and, while my left foot had been fine on the ice, my right foot slid a few inches. It was only then that I realized what had happened.
Our trust in God is like wearing traction in the snow and ice. If we truly trust God to guide us, we can walk confidently knowing that he will not let us fall. We may not know where we are going and there may be hills that make the going more treacherous, but our faith will keep our feet steady no matter how icy the road gets. For we rely on a God that will never let us down if we keep our eyes on him.
When we rely on earthly items, we are walking without any traction at all. When we put our faith in material things like food, money and even power or other people, we eventually come to realize they will not hold us up. They may keep us going for a while, like a branch in the woods we can hold onto when we slip. However, with enough pressure, that limb will break, making our fall that much harder.
Sometimes we may think we are relying on God. We may praise him and boast about his mighty deeds. We quote the Bible and lift our hands to him in awe. Yet, when it comes down to it, we are relying on ourselves, not God, to make the world a better place. We are wrapped up in our human emotions, such as fear, anger or pride.
We may forget one of the biggest lessons that Jesus taught us: to love our neighbor – to be merciful just as he is steadfastly merciful to each of us. When we forget this lesson, it is like thinking we are wearing traction without realizing that it has fallen off. We started on the right path but immersed ourselves in the world around us.
We did not check in with God and failed to realize that we were not on firm footing.
What is it that may cause you, unknowingly, to slip? For me, I have been getting caught up in righteous anger. I have valid reasons to be upset with the way things are happening in the world right now. What I have to be cautious of is not letting that anger control me. If that anger causes me to look at others with judgement rather than mercy, then my traction is slipping off my feet. If my fear is causing me not to enjoy moments of safe connection, then I am not placing my trust in God to take care of me.
Do we take the time to listen to how God is telling us to respond to all of these major events happening in our world right now? Are we like Samuel who needed to be called numerous times before he knew which direction to go — towards God?
“Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, ‘Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening’” (1 Samuel 3:8-9).
(Jenna Ebener, who has a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with medical needs.)