Obstacles or Clear Paths

   I love to snowshoe.

    We have had a lot of snow this year, and I have been laughing as I watch our two dogs- Baxter and Ranger- trudge through the snow. When they fall in over their heads, they whine and bark for help.

Ranger in the snow.

    I often haul them up out of their predicament. Then, they very humbly and gladly walk in my tracks.

    The Apostle Paul spoke about this to the Corinthians. Well, maybe not about snowshoes, but definitely about obstacles. He said, “We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way by great endurance…”

    Paul knew that obstacles keep people from moving forward.

Just like my dogs in the snow, when I encounter a spiritual obstacle, I often fall. When we attach extras to the Gospel, we prevent people from moving closer to Jesus. We are putting down obstacles like a bricklayer with a deadline.

    However, Paul told the Corinthians what the remedy was. Instead of adding obstacles to the Gospel, he commended both himself and the Way of Christ he followed by endurance. People were watching to see how he endured hardship in his life, and when he exemplified endurance, they wanted to know about the Way- Jesus.

    “In afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…” Paul exemplified endurance. It was as if he could say to any onlooker, “Hey, walk in my tracks!”

Baxter likes to walk in my tracks.

    But, if I’m honest, that list looks pretty intimidating. How did Paul manage to endure all those terrible things? How can I endure my own terrible times? 

    He has a list for that too. How did he endure? “By purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine lone, by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left…”

    He didn’t claim to endure the path by his own fortitude. Note that he didn’t list strength, personality, a special diet, a series of doctrines, or will power. The power of God was enough.

    Instead of obstacles that would arrest the forward movement of a new believer in the Way of Following Christ, Paul left a trail of endurance for them to walk in. 

    Sometimes, in the snow, the dogs follow my snowshoes so close that they step on the backs. This slows me down, but it keeps the dogs safe.

Ranger almost standing on the backs of my snowshoes.

Occasionally, as we trust the power of God to help us endure, those coming behind us have to stand on our shoes. It may slow us down at first, but we can learn to walk in step. If we are all walking in step with the Lord, there are few obstacles that can stop us.

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