As is our habit when we are with them, we went on a hike. Going with us was our beagle, Ellie, and Bryan and Peggy's labrador retriever, Remi.
It was a pleasant hike, winding around a lake. While it was not a difficult hike, there were a couple places with some slight elevation changes. Peggy and Remi were first along the trail and then me and Ellie, while Bryan and Glen brought up the rear. All the time Ellie was straining at her leash to catch up with her friend, Remi.
This is when it happened. More quickly than I could even realize my feet were pulled out from under me. One leg bent backward, one foot slid forward and I fell hard on my hip and arm. Apart from some loss of skin, nothing was hurt, except for my pride, of course. It seems it has become customary for me to fall at some point during a visit to Bryan and Peggy's. Sometimes I just want to demonstrate to them that I do have excellent balance!
I fell because of two things. First, Ellie was pulling hard against me. But mostly, my eyes were on Ellie instead of on the trail. I have been a hiker long enough to know where I should be looking.
The incident made me think, though, that I fell because my eyes were on the wrong thing. How many times in my Christian life has it been like that? I had a fall because I was my eyes were on something, anything, other than the Lord Jesus. How easy it is in the world today to let other influences take our gaze away from Him. The news blares at us, "Be afraid! Be very afraid!" It seems like wherever we turn our attention apart from the Lord, we are cautioned, warned, and admonished that our life is going to be miserable.
If we did not know and trust the Lord, that may well be the life we experience. But if we know and trust the Lord, we can know peace and joy and love and contentment in any - in every- situation.
While in Philippi, Paul and Silas were whipped, thrown into the innermost part of a prison, and their feet secured in stocks. Beaten, bruised, and wrongly accused, the Scriptures tell us this about Paul and Silas:
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God:
and the prisoners heard them," Acts 16:25.
The praying I totally understand. But they "sang praises unto God" as well. Singing praises comes from a heart of love and joy. They did not have this in and of themselves, it was the Spirit of God who lived inside of them that gave them a song. And He will give one to us as well. We just need to keep our eye on the right thing.
As we look beyond our circumstances, beyond our world, beyond the enemy who seeks to destroy us, to the One who loved us enough to die for us, our hearts will be kept in peace.
"Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of faith;
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself,
lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
Hebrews 12: 2,3