Moving Forward Together on Unsure Footing

Unsure Footing
Moving Forward Together on Unsure Footing

In the summer of 2011, I had the privilege of serving on a mission trip in Honduras.  After a week of service, the long-term missionaries scheduled a day for our team to explore the rain forest just outside of the town of La Ceiba.  We enjoyed a hike rife with potential dangers: a tree, equipped with poisonous spikes lining much of the hilly trek; a rickety bridge with broken planks; and a little scorpion most of our team stepped over before one team member noticed it standing in the middle of the path, looking for a foot to strike.  But the reward for working together to get through the beautiful, uncertain, treacherous path was a breathtaking waterfall where we would stop for lunch.

Once we made it to the lunch spot, Mike, the mission-team leader suggested that we make our way over a series of jagged and slippery rocks to the pool formed at the base of the waterfall.  We soon discovered our own limitations.  The bare feet on slippery rocks make for unsure footing.  Mike, who has done this dozens of times patiently worked along with the more stable-footed of our team members to assist each of us, one-by-one, over the rocks.  At one point, one of our team members froze in fear, terrified that the next step could lead to a journey out of the rainforest by stretcher.  “Just grab my hand.  You can do this,” encouraged Mike, gently bearing the weight of this team member so everyone could get through to experience the beauty of God’s work first-hand.

As I consider the next several weeks together at Calvary, prayerfully investigating the possibility of investing in the renovation and expansion of our current facility in order to bring glory to our God in this generation and the next by making disciples where we have been planted, I have reflected on this journey through the rainforest.  For some, the next several weeks might feel like a journey of unsure footing – one moment full of excitement about future possibilities, and the next, the sense of a rush of fear, not knowing how to move forward without pain.  How do we move forward together, when some can bound through the rocks with no thought to the dangers ahead and others are tempted to simply stand, frozen in fear?

Mike’s actions illustrate well, the posture the Scriptures prescribe for moving together on unsure footing.  The Apostle Paul, puts it this way, “I…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility, and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

In other words, we must first remember what we already have been given by Jesus.  The unity we have in the Spirit of God is not first and foremost something we achieve, but it’s a reality achieved for us by Jesus.  We are to be unified, because Unity in the Spirit is the very identity of the church.  We must be eager to maintain this unity that belongs to us, but what does that look like?  This unity looks like the following postures:

#1 –  Humility, meaning we consider the ideas and concerns of others in our church family, knowing that we do not have all the answers, and we need the gifts and weaknesses of everyone…

#2 – Gentleness, meaning we encourage each other in the midst of fears and differences of opinion, not disparaging the thoughts or contributions of others, but seeking ways to build up…

#3 – Patience, meaning we are slow to speak and quick to listen without expectation that everyone will share our perspective, knowing that we have a God who is infinitely patient with us all…

#4 – Bearing with One Another In Love, meaning we assume the best in one another and sometimes offer a listening ear or a shoulder on which to cry, while reminding one another to keep looking up and moving forward with a hand to hold.

May the Spirit of God enable us to maintain the strength in these postures of unity, so that we might move forward together in the midst of unsure footing.