It’s Not The Mountain But Stone That Trips Us Up

Earl Nightingale once said, “It’s not the mountains in your life that trip you up but the little stone.” Now, I really have to be vigilant about potential fall hazards. Due to a recent brain injury, I am now more of a fall risk. Because I used to work as a neuro/trauma chaplain, I am much more aware of how a ground level fall can lead to someone’s demise. I have had people say to me, “That’s just negative self-talk, and I just don’t allow myself to go there.” Those who have ever worked in neurology, trauma, or rehabilitation units are very aware of how fragile the brain is—soft as warm butter—housed in a skull with bony, sharp, ridges. God created the brain well-insulated and well-protected, but their are times that humans exceed the limit of what is safe. Despite being fearfully and wonderfully made, the brain remains vulnerable to being injured.

Like the brain, we have spiritually vulnerable areas. Humans are known to have five senses of the nervous system: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Some believe, myself included, our senses are the avenues to the soul. Interestingly, Paul mentions six components—the armor of God—to spiritually protect our vulnerability (Ephesians 6:12-16). Although we often think we can visualize our enemies, Paul tells us the fight is really with the unseen forces. And he instructed Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith.” He also said, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. … we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5). In other words, nothing left unbarred; nothing considered too small or too insignificant.

There is a verse that has me captivated at the moment. “Avoid worldly, empty, talk, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly” (2 Timothy 2:16, my paraphrase). There are certain conversational arenas that I can easily enter into—sports and politics. I think men have an affinity to both of them. Men are not typically known to be talkers, but engage an interest or seek an opinion, and they are usually hooked. Sports has been said to be the religion of males and politics could be as well. Why? Men prefer activities that leave them out of the conversation. (If you are interested in this topic, I wrote a dissertation on it. Trust me. It’s hard to not want to elaborate further.)

The key word in the verse above is avoid. It is in the imperative mood, which means that it is action that must be taken and repeatedly. We are to avoid indulging (in this sentence it is an adjective) in worldly, empty, talk because we will become more and more ungodly. In other words, for men, this is the Achilles heel. Men are more spontaneous— impulsive—which makes jumping in easier. Is it any wonder that females out live males? Men do not have to take time to ponder and think about it, because they thought about it a long time ago and THINK they know how to instantly respond. Because men already know what to do, this sometimes leads to a sooner exit from this world. Although I am being somewhat facetious, there is still truth here.

Notice that what Paul said above is not written subjunctively (hypothetically), as if we might become more ungodly through indulging in worldly, empty, talk. It is written in the future tense, which means by indulging we will become more and more ungodly. Obviously, what Paul wrote makes perfect sense, but the effects of such behavior is subtler. That’s because the effects come later—in the future—and not necessarily realized immediately.

You may have guessed that I am speaking about something tangible concerning myself. Facebook is an easy vehicle for offering our opinions in a forum from a distance. There are hooks and ladders to our news feed—what we have already written, what our friends have said, and what the general public has said. And not everything we consume on Facebook is positive. LOL! Sorry, I couldn’t help but use the social media acronym. The negative has a stronger attraction for many of us than we might want to admit.

So, here’s my confession, and we all know that confession is good for the soul. Far too much of the discussion on Facebook is worldly and empty. And what is the result of it? God says that we WILL become more and more ungodly. It is spiritually healthy to remember that it is the little things that can bring this man down—and maybe there’s something worthwhile for everyone else to consider as well.