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Faith column: The slippery slope of life

Humans do so many things to keep their balance and their equilibrium on an even keel. This is so true when adversity strikes.

Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck
Flinck
Photo courtesy of Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck
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WORTHINGTON — Over the past few snowstorms which we have experienced, I have noticed something that is especially important to me. Midwestern folks change their walk after a snowstorm. This is remarkably so when the snow has an icy component to it.

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I noticed that people’s steps seem shorter, measured, more calculated. People avoid those areas where it is blatantly obvious that it is slippery — an accident waiting to happen if one dares to step there.

They look for obvious signs of ice melt pellets sprinkled on the sidewalk so they can gain more traction and not slip head over heels. Holding onto each other also helps to gain an advantage over the gravitational pull of a fall. Although, if one person is going down, more than likely, so is the other.

Now, the reason it is especially important to me is I can’t be sliding away with two replaced knees and one replaced hip. I wanted to know if I should attend a skating party next month. I called the clinic that did my replacement parts. They advised against it, saying it would be risky to do so. I could easily fracture a bone if I suddenly slipped on the ice.

So, no ice skating for this guy — apart from walking across my driveway or a parking lot. Short, measured, calculated Tim-Conway-old-man type steps. That will get me from Point A to Point B safely — without falling. I hope.

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Humans do so many things to keep their balance and their equilibrium on an even keel. This is so true when adversity strikes. When life gets a little treacherous, we try to slow down so we don’t make the mistake of falling completely into a danger zone. We check the path ahead to see where the danger lies, hidden in the shadowy backdrop of life.

Sometimes we ask friends for help and guidance, but mostly we go it alone. It seems the safest plan is to hunker down in a safe zone where the danger cannot harm us.

There are always things in our daily 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. When these things happen, we come crashing down.

Here’s some quick advice to avoid the slippery slopes of life: live by the Spirit. Keep in step with him. If we walk in the Spirit, we will not gratify or indulge in the desires of the flesh. Instead of slipping on our sins, we will walk in freedom in the Holy Spirit. Our lives will reflect the Spirit’s residence within, and we will bear fruit for the Lord.

The Spirit points us to Jesus, and when we abide in Christ, we will want to walk in the same way he walked. His steps are safe and already measured for success. Walk and live by the Spirit.

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We also need to increase our smarts about life. When we hold onto sound wisdom and discretion, our walk will be more secure and we won’t stumble around. We must be careful how we walk, Paul says, and we should pursue the walk of wisdom.

Wisdom’s ways are the True North of our lives. Godly wisdom can lead us in a straight path of righteousness, making it easier to move forward unhampered according to God’s plans.

Friends, the truth is that we live in a dark world where unbelievers rejoice when Christians slip up. As Christ-followers, we can understand the darkness because we once lived there. We constantly stumbled around in the darkness, unable to walk God’s straight path.

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Paul says, we are the “light in the Lord.” God expects us to “walk as children of light” — to walk “properly” as in the daytime, knowing God sees us and has designs to make us holy. The world should be able to tell the difference the Gospel has made in our lives. Another way to say this is, we need to “walk in newness of life.”

Keep your steps safe in these treacherous days, my friends, by holding fast to your faith in Jesus. “When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word, what a glory he sheds on our way!”

Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck is pastor at First United Methodist Church in Worthington and Adrian United Methodist Church.

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