Walking on the Edge

August 16, 2008 § 1 Comment

Our dog Bear recently turned one year old.  Of course we all know that in human years he is seven, but he has been on the planet for a year.  And he has grown and will continue to grow – at this point up to roughly 75 pounds.  Seventy-five pounds of dog is heavy – actually seventy-five pounds of any animal seems heavier than if it were on a human.  You may have heard of the family that was camping out west the other day when a ninety-pound baby bear attacked a little boy.  Fortunately his father was able to fight him off with minimal scrapes to his son.  And then it took two Park Rangers to handle the adolescent animal.  So 75 pounds is big – Bear is big.

I offer this because this morning, as I took Bear for his early walk, he began to do what he has recently enjoyed doing – he walked on the curb of our property at the edge where the land is segregated from the road by concrete.  I don’t know why he does it, and frankly I don’t understand why he does most of what he does.  He takes way too long to do his ‘business’ outside, I can tell you that, and I’m constantly bewildered as to why he is so particular about it.  It is all grass!  If he thinks we are more pleased because he is picky he doesn’t get it.  But back to his curb-walking – Maybe he likes the smells of whatever invisible animal tracks he may detect off the property.  Or perhaps he recognizes some shoe scents and wonders why humans would walk on that dark surface.  Again, who knows what a dog thinks?

But there he is, walking on the curb.  It can’t be eight inches wide, but he handles it – with all four feet!  Every now and then I attempt to do the same thing with my two feet – an old pastime from childhood years.  Rarely do I successfully make it from point A to point B before one foot invariably has to step onto the grass – or the street – in order to maintain balance for the rest of my body.  Somehow it seems that two feet would do better than four on a small surface – but they don’t.

This morning, watching Bear I thought about the Faith – how what I can’t do on the curb, I also can’t do when it comes to temptation.  Every time I walk on the ‘edge’ of temptation I fall.  There is a real simple reason – deep down I want to.  I may not admit it, but I wouldn’t be tiptoeing there if I weren’t already compelled.

James reveals that there is no mystery involved.  He says that whatever I fall into comes from my “own evil desire” (James 1:13-15).  In a sense, I am dragged into sin by me!  Now I know this is true – and if you dig deeply enough into your own heart and motives, you know that the same applies to your life.

The Gospel liberates us.  Rather than fein strength, we find Grace to live by admitting weakness.  John Calvin, in his commentary on 1 John 5:5, wrote, “We conquer by faith because we borrow strength from Christ.”

Let’s face it – we two-footed creatures weren’t designed to dance on the edge.  We’re not only unfinished – we’re also weak.  We are built to walk on a surface more suited for our fragile spiritual anatomies – a safer surface… like grass (which unfortunately for us dog-owners presents its own unique challenges).

peace.

§ One Response to Walking on the Edge

  • Olivia Hammar says:

    Mike,

    I distinctly remember a sermon you preached, probably 6 or 7 years ago, about dancing around your demons. You talked about how we can even convince ourselves that it is somehow appropriate because we rationalize our motives, i.e. “I am doing this to help some other Christian who is struggling.” It was such a powerful sermon, it still comes to mind when I am just before beginning the dance. It amazes me how easy it is to convince myself something is ok when I know in my heart it isn’t. This morning’s sermon was from Luke 7: 36 – 48. I have way too much in common with Simon, the leper, who judges the prostitute because he sees her as unclean. It is when I forget the depth of my own depravity that I head for the curb.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Olivia

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