“Making mistakes in the spiritual life is an essential part of growth—as important as forest fires, blow-downs, and insects are to the life of a thriving forest. You grow only in being burnt, bent, and bitten. You have to stumble before you walk…”
As one who has spent their life incessantly striving for perfectionism, the mere thought of erring in any regard has been unacceptable and manifests in preventative hypervigilance. The opening quotation from theologian Belden C. Lane’s work, Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice, struck a resounding “chord” within my being—a misstep on the path could be positive and reset our hearts and minds increasing our faith journey?
Lane succinctly continues stating: “…Our natural inclination—whether in wilderness or in the spiritual life—is to be free from the fire, to avoid painful experiences in our lives…”: to circumvent scenarios which could be interpreted as unpleasant or painful.
Throughout Lent, each week our Sunday worship services begin with The Decalogue—The Ten Commandments followed by the Confession and subsequent Absolution; it is within this Absolution that we hear the Celebrant share the words that God grants us mercy and forgiveness. Our gracious God gives us new life to “reset,” to walk forward on this trail called life; to live and serve in His name.
Isaiah 43:1-3 is yet another reminder of God’s hand and unwavering presence in our lives:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God…”
As we walk through life’s fires, as we cross over and around the blow-downs, as we negotiate space and distance through pesky irritations, we know that whatever we encounter, God is with us on this journey, and we forever have the blessed opportunity to reorient and set a course to live in His image.
Soli Deo Gloria. Beatus Sequor.