No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
-- 1 Corinthians 10:13
The Christ-follower's faith-journey can be compared to a hike along an uneven, winding road or a perilous climb up a craggy mountainside. After all, we never know what's around the bend or over the next hill. Our vision is limited. And it's all too easy to lose our footing on the steep inclines and fall back a little.
An excellent illustration of this eternal lesson involves a beautiful spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Crabtree Falls. Located about a half-hour's drive past Charlottesville, Virginia, it demands a strenuous hike once you finally park your car. But it's very much worth it; the view is spectacular.
Like our faith-journey, the narrow, rocky trail leading to the waterfall leaves little margin for error. There's even a sign at the water's edge that warns hikers to stick close to the path. Sadly, a college student died there in June 2015 after slipping on the moss-covered rocks and falling 80 feet. Rather than keeping his eyes on the safe, marked trail, this unfortunate adventurer (plus nearly 30 people before him) decided to take a detour. His way may have promised fun and adventure. Sadly, it delivered only tragedy.
"There is a way that appears to be right," we're warned through the Old Testament book of Proverbs. "But in the end it leads to death."
God's words of wisdom--like that sign posted at the waterfall's edge--urge us to stay on the path that leads to the intended destination. But as obvious as that sounds, life's problems, temptations and tragedies seem to wait for us around the next bend. We trip up after compromising our principles with the world's values. It's then that we fall and later wonder why our Creator permitted our problems in the first place.
Rather than loose rocks, fallen trees and hairpin turns, the hazards along our faith-journey involve unemployment, broken relationships, missed credit card payments and chronic disease. Our task is therefore to focus on our Eternal Guide and remember that we worship a God who's much greater than our circumstances. He's led us safely through the rough times before...and he can do so again. And consider this: Through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus, God has already defeated our greatest life-hazard: sin.
Is your faith-journey getting a little too rough? If not now, it will soon enough. But let's be encouraged by that famous rhetorical question from Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles: "If God is for us," he asks, "who can be against us?"
As we focus our eyes toward the ultimate goal, let's strive to follow Jesus by putting our faith in him and avoiding the pitfalls of life. He's the trustworthy guide who's promised to lead us to the summit of our faith-journey.
Get ready for an unforgettable trip. It's worth it for the view alone.