This marks both my 50th blog and my 3,000th Instagram post. A double milestone!
With this in mind, I prayed to find something truly meaningful to write about. Perhaps another devotional, or a parable, or my core values. Or something funny.
Then I stepped on a spike.
You see, I like walking barefoot in my apartment, even though it sometimes causes heartache and shame. Heartache because, all too often, my feet land on a stone some dirty shoe left on my floor, and since my soles lack thick callouses or tough skin, landing on these rocks usually send pains screaming through my body. That’s when shame factors in, for if I succeed at finding and capturing that barb to my flesh, I inevitably find it’s little bigger than a pinhead. To think such small things could cause such agony... and yet they do, when I allow them to.
I know, I know… I should clean more. I have considered this, but dust clogs my reusable vacuum filter, and I haven’t figured out how to clean it. Yet. I’ll get to it eventually. I doubt regular vacuuming would help in any case, for there have been far more stepping-stone incidents in my one-bedroom abode than my sandy shoes could account for. This suggests some purpose may lie behind this. Perhaps those little granules come of their own accord, to vacation in my flat. Or the sandman’s sloppy and keeps spilling his wares… I have experienced trouble sleeping, after all. Or gremlins in the attic enjoy watching me hop about on one foot in agony. That makes sense, for there’s a lot of noise coming out of that crawl space, though my neighbor below sure doesn’t like it…
Conspiracy theories… such fun!
The next day brought an intriguing waterfowl encounter at a neighborhood pond, one surrounded by an iron fence to keep pedestrians and their hounds out of that water and off those shores. Strolling around that park, I passed several ducks in the grass, some sleeping, others wishing to. Not one cast a care in my direction, or even acknowledged my presence. Then I came upon a pair of geese. The male froze upon seeing me, locking eyes with mine while shielding his mate with his body. Had that fence not divided us, I suspect he would have charged to drive me away. His mate ignored me entirely, choosing instead to poke and prod the sod for nourishment.
This touched my heart. As a Christian, I recognized godly parallels in that male’s protective role. His mate’s actions revealed an admirable trust in his ability to defend her – a feeling I wish I experienced more often.
My argumentative side kicked in at this point to consider those actions anew. Paying no attention to me could illustrate how people often walk blindly through life, focusing on short-term needs or pleasures instead of the larger world or God’s enduring presence.
This thought echoed my stepping-stone woes. Like those ducks or that female goose, I could ignore the random grains of sand on my floor, betting the impact odds ran in my favor. Or I could set these worries aside, as I do all other things effectively out of my control. Or I could attribute my vulnerability to unavoidable aging issues and let go of those hyperactive concerns.
That brought a revised look at that protective goose. Perhaps, unlike the ducks or his mate, this goose could not trust the fence right before his eyes. His love and concern for his mate would not allow it.
Perhaps he just hated interruptions… or what he perceived as an interruption.
Or he simply could not bend from his nature.
In this moment of doubt, I gazed into those defiant goose eyes and saw bristling aggression. That dismayed me, for I face such reactions often. One hopes first encounters will draw open minds and friendly smiles, not preset skepticism or hostility, and yet the people of this world seem increasingly ready and willing to err on the side of fear, or even hate. They’re ever more consumed by their uncertainty, personal bias, and prideful self-interest, with no reservoir of trust or forgiveness to draw from, much less share.
That thought thread left me pondering my own status. Have I grown too dependent on the conveniences of this world, its many distractions and lures? Am I losing my inner drive, my independence, my purpose?
This query led back to the stone’s central truth: one need not dwell on pain or frustration or anger. I may let these feelings pass, forget them, and move on. I have this choice. I do.
This momentum of reassessment carried me beyond observations and judgments to core values. My heart focused on what I cherish: Following God. Living free. Nurturing love. Esteeming sacrifice. Finding purpose. Setting objectives. Seeking guidance. Making decisions. Serving others. Working together. Striving for improvement. Practicing patience. Building trust. Pursuing truth. Perfecting clarity. Employing honesty. Supporting justice. Embracing grace. Giving compassion. Absolving guilt. Accepting pain. Rejecting evil. Being good.
Clarity… purpose… love… God.
Such words take me back to Scripture, which provides a good summation for my life:
Seek first the Kingdom of God.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.