Saturday, March 15, 2014

"To Him Who is Able to Keep You From Stumbling" - Can We Be Sure of Heaven? Part 4

I tripped and fell a couple days ago while I was on my run. One minute I was going at my normal (i.e. slow) pace, and the next minute I was plunging downward into the gravel. I caught myself on my palms and my right knee. Beside a few scrapes on my hands and a bloody knee, I was none the worse for wear.

I don’t know what happened. I didn't trip over anything unless it was my own feet. And it’s not like it was an unfamiliar route. I figure in the last five years I've been around this track over 600 times. I just fell, kablooey.

And as I stood to my feet, wiped my hands on my running shorts, and surveyed the abrasion on my knee, a Scripture verse popped into my head. Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling.

That verse, the beginning of Jude 24, is not a promise about jogging. Sure, God could have kept me from falling. He could have suspended gravity or energized my aging body with better balance. (As it is, I'm thankful He kept me from breaking anything or needing stitches!) But really, the more important "falling" is spiritual. He promises to keep me from stumbling into disqualifying sin.

As I resumed my jog around the track, I started thinking about how untrustworthy my own strength really is. It's even more true spiritually. If it depended upon me, I could never count on making it to heaven. I would fall and end up denying Christ by my words and actions. But, thankfully, I have a Shepherd.

Here's the full promise: Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25, ESV

I expect to make it all the way around the track, the "race that is set before me" (Hebrews 12:1). But my confidence is not in my endurance or balance or anything else of mine. The promise reminds me that He is the one who is able, not me. And the "keeping" is a special word that means "to watch in case of attack." Our God watches over us and keeps us safe - from enemy attack, and even from the attacks of our own flesh. Just as the shepherds "were keeping watch over their flocks by night" (same Greek word, Luke 2:8), our Shepherd keeps watch over us.

My route seems long sometimes and I know I'm not much of a runner. I keep plugging away, though, scraping my knees and skinning my hands from time to time. But one day, one day. I know my Shepherd will bring me home, "faultless to stand before the throne."  And I'll get to be in His presence forever, with great joy. I'm counting on it.