A catastrophic accident can happen in an instant, and it almost did yesterday morning. Rain had saturated the ground in front of the horses' feed trough. The incline on which I usually stand was slick with mud. I was in a hurry, so I stepped with one foot at the same time I lifted the feed bucket, leaned over the fence, and dumped the food into the trough.
My foot slipped, I lost my balance, and went down hard. Everything happened in an instant. My bottom landed in the mud and I slide down the incline.
My feet went under the feed trough, nearly to the horses' hooves, and my bottom headed down the tiny rise. I was almost to the flat ground under the feed trough when I grabbed the barbed wire and held on tight. In that same instant, I called "Jesus help," hoped I didn't end up under the surprised horses' feet, and dreaded how bad the barbed wire would hurt.
My hold on the barbed wire stopped the descent.
I hung there for a few seconds, and surveyed the damage. My hand hurt but not too bad, my backside was wet and gooey from the mud, but bones all seemed fine. I'd stopped a few inches short of restless hooves.
I scooted back up the little rise, dumped the hay in the rack, and walked back to the house to change. I thanked God all the way home.
Two things stopped my slide down the slippery slope. I called for Jesus and reached out for something on which I could depend.
You might not think a barbed wire fence is "dependable" but Ryan built that fence. The posts are solid and the wire is tight. I knew it would hold me.
A fast trip down the slippery slopes of life can happen just as quickly. A flirtation with a coworker, a casual one-time lifestyle choice of a mind-altering substance, a shopping spree that's a little too big. One choice in a not-quite-right direction can send up hurtling down a path we would never choose for ourselves.
How do we avoid catastrophe? Stay on the paths of righteousness, repent fast when we make a mistake, call out to Jesus, and reach out to Him.
I knew the barbed wire would hurt before I grabbed it. I also knew it would be worth it. In that same way, there's a beautiful pain that accompanies confession of sin and repentance. It's much less, however, than a continued hurtle into disaster. The minor discomfort of humbled pride, confessed sin, and true repentance is worth the blessing of restoration.
Today, let's consider our recent choices. Are we firmly on the path God has set before us or have we taken a first tiny step off the path? Is a slippery slope just ahead? If we need a course correction, let's stop now and make it, before we propel ourselves into disaster.
We can live the life of a disciple, but only if we make one right choice after another, with a quick step back when our feet begin to stray.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:1,3