What If I Stumble

Photo: Glenda Harbinson

Guest Post by Nicole White

I stumbled recently. Instead of paying attention to where I was going I was thinking of a million other things than where my feet were and stepped half off a driveway, and down I went. A single curse word escaped as I landed on hands and knees, palms scraped, one knee stinging and the other covered in mulch. I rose slowly, testing for damage. Nothing serious.  A little less skin on my hands, a rising bruise on one knee. I brushed off and moved on, paying closer attention to my feet. But my train of thought had been disrupted.

Ironically, that same day I had experienced a stumble of a spiritual sort. I’d been going along, mind on a million other things when a snare from the past caught my feet and I tumbled.

It wasn’t an old habit I slipped back into, or some past sin I chose to revisit. It wasn’t even something I did. It was a circumstance from my past that came up suddenly, unexpected and yet not unfamiliar, from a time when I was a more broken person. And as it happened, I stumbled. In my mind I became that lesser one, cowed and beaten by this world. I forgot myself and slipped easily back into the past, pulled by a specter of another time.

I am being vague, but those who have survived something—no, survived isn’t a word that does it justice; those who have been reborn and made whole from something—know that it doesn’t matter what the something is. The emphasis should be on the cleansing, not on the dirt.

Much like when I stumbled literally, I was startled by it and checked myself for damage.  This involved asking the question “Am I still the creature of the past, broken and lacking? Or am I the new creation, made whole?”

I’ve been reading James for a few weeks, and find it applicable to my stumbling. From chapter 1: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Consider my stumble pure joy?  Actually, yes. If it produces perseverance in me, then yes it is pure joy. If it reminds me that I am still a work in progress, not yet “mature and complete”, still lacking, then bring it. But bring too the grace to handle it. Bring the maturity that  brings growth.

When I stumbled spiritually I was knocked off the sure footing I know as a new creature in Christ.  This darkness from the past, this feeling of brokenness and unworthiness, swelled so fast within me that I was left startled and worried.  Again I ask: Which am I?  The frightened, self-loathing child of the past, or God’s child of the present?

James helped there as well.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Was I asking from a position of belief—not simply in my transformation, but in the transformer Himself? Or was I asking as one who doubts, as James puts it—one tossed by the wind?  Did I stumble because I was double-minded and unstable? The unstable certainly are prone to stumbling!

I knew the answer before I even asked the question. I stumbled not because I am still a victim of my past, but because rescue and wholeness it is a process—what James meant by “letting perseverance finish its work” and being made “mature and complete”.

I am left with a scab on my knee, and a real but fleeting disquiet in my heart.  It reminds me to be thankful that wounds can be healed, and that real stability can be found.

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Nicole White is a lifelong learner and teacher.  Science was her passion, leading her to a masters degree in quantum mechanics, until she found a better pursuit: studying God’s truths. This speaker, blogger, wife, mom of 3, science teacher and storyteller will make you laugh and make you think as she brings life lessons from God’s word. Her blog can be found at nicolewhitespeaks.com.

2 thoughts on “What If I Stumble

  1. Hi Nicole,

    I loved this post! I am at the very end of a months long study of the book of James using Beth Moore’s “Mercy Triumphs” workbook and downloadable videos. I take my time with these to savor every moment. I so related to what you wrote about how we can stumble and feel like there’s been no growth in our lives. Your post was a great reminder that nothing is wasted. It also reminded me of a verse I love. “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).” When you took your eyes off of the path directly in front of you, you stumbled. A few years ago, I thought of this verse and had a clear picture of this enter my mind. I saw myself walking on a hiking path towards a forest in the dark (I live in Montana, so this wasn’t hard to visualize). I had a huge flashlight in my hand. I pointed it at the trees ahead and could see the path up in front of me, but I realized that I could easily stumble on a rock, a branch, or even walk off the cliff! So I pointed it down right in front of my feet on the path, and I was safe. It reminded me that the Lord guides us and allows us only to see what is right in the present or prepares us for things close at hand. But we really do need to use his Word as that light to our path. Great post Nicole!

    • I was doing Beth Moore’s study as well when I wrote this. It was a great study on a great book of the bible. I love your illustration about keeping our eye on the path. Nice insight! Thanks for reading.

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