Although our sins testify against us, O Lord, do something for the sake of your name. For our blacksliding is great; we have sinned against you. - Jeremiah 14:7
On our recent trip to the mountains, I found myself backsliding - not in the sinful way, but in the "That was fun, let's do it again!" sort of way. Squealing as I flew backside-first down the side of the mountain, I found that God had provided an opportune time for me to not only laugh at myself but, learn from the experience.
You see, there was a lot more to that fall than most would recognize and now that I step back and accept the challenge to examine the incident, I see just where the Father was taking me.
I stood at the top of a slick hillside and without a second thought, took a step. Did I make an effort to grasp hold of my husband's extended hand? No! Did I grab hold of a tree for balance? No! I did what most of us do in any given situation. I stepped out on my own - no preparation, no thought or guidance, and wham. My feet became airborne and I landed flat on my backside, taking the ride of my life and going downhill fast.
Isn't that just like us - walking head first into a situation without looking? Worse yet, once we're at the bottom of the hill looking up, we have to begin the climb back. Step after step, we make the effort to move tediously over rocks and wet leaves. As long as our eyes are fixed on the short-term climb, we manage fine. But when we look to the top, the climb looks too steep and bottom appears better, so we backslide into our old ways. Our feet start to slip, and our arms flap in an attempt to steady us, but the ride to the bottom is much easier.
We find that our sins are much more fun than we care to admit. The ride down the hill was a blast, but it left us with a dirty backside. Now, not only do we have to find our way back, but once we get there, we've got to clean the mud off. Cliché as it is, we've fallen prey to backsliding.
Two steps forward and four back.
The Father knows the path we travel is filled with obstacles. He knows we'll step out on our own and slide bottom-first down the hill. Still, the wonderful thing is, He's always there to help us. It's that unconditional and hopeful love of the Creator that lifts us, that gets behind us and pushes us forward - all the way to the top. Once we manage to pull ourselves back, then we face the job of cleaning up the mess. That's the hard part. Often times we can't see the dirt on our backside, yet we know it's there. We're filthy and just because we can't see the mud doesn't mean we won't leave a smudge when we sit on the new couch. There's a vicious cycle of climbing, sliding, cleaning, climbing, sliding, and cleaning. Thank goodness when we backslide the Father offers us a forgiveness that is complete and amazing. He knows we are sinful, yet He stands hand extended, to pull us free from the muddy hillside. To top it off - He washes us clean.
I can't say that the Father finds His fun in snapping a picture of my muddy backside, but He certainly can use it to prove that the fast trip to the bottom may have been fun, but it left us pretty nasty. We all trip and fall - backslide from time to time, but when we reach for the hand of God, we will find forgiveness and we'll be cleansed. Brand new, no smudges. Clean.
Sometimes God lets us wallow at the bottom for a time, but when our eyes are finally opened He wraps His arms around us and lifts us effortlessly to the mountain top. And you thought the ride to the bottom was fun. Wait until you ride up!