What If I Stumble?

It was a solid week of slipping every time I took a step outside.

Nearly a foot of snow blanketed the Pacific Northwest, and being a transplant, I found myself unprepared. I didn’t own a single pair of weatherproof shoes, so I traipsed through the snow in soaking wet faux suede booties. I wore a fleece pullover under my heaviest coat. And with every step, I walked like a baby—lots of pauses and bracing for the impending fall.

By the end of the week, the snow was finally almost gone—puddles and the tallest snow piles were all that remained. As I walked through the church parking lot that Sunday, I stepped on what I thought was just a wet spot. Nope. Black ice. I had a couple of unexpected bumbling steps, when a simple phrase came to mind: “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling.”

“Thank you, Jesus” raced through my mind as I kept walking. And it occurred to me—rather, the Spirit showed me—that so much of my spiritual energy goes into keeping myself from falling. I’ve trained myself to anticipate every possible threat to my Christian life, whether they’re different opinions, institutions, or even people.

Those words, “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling,” come from Jude 24. The small but mighty book of Jude calls the Church to “contend for the faith” (v. 3), to recognize wolves and false teaching and to stand firm against them. If you didn’t know any better, you might think the book of Jude is a call to do better at avoiding heresy. But the doxology that closes the book, verses 24–25, enlighten us about what God wants us to notice:

Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.

Jude is calling his readers to fight for the faith, to take a stand even when it’s hard, not so that we will not stumble, but because we know God will keep us from stumbling.

Do you see the difference?

This means I don’t have to manage threats to my Christian life. I don’t have to be afraid that any wind of change could shipwreck my faith and send me to the nearest atheist club. I can face whatever troubles come my way because I know God is holding and keeping me for his own.

When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life's fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

“He Will Hold Me Fast,” Ada Habershon and Matt Merker

There’s so much comfort for us when we’re certain that we’re kept by God. He didn’t rescue us from the power of sin and leave us to keep our hands out of the forbidden cookie jar. No, he rescues us, sustains us, and empowers us. When God calls us to take a step of faith, he’s calling us to follow him to a place where he already is. He gives us his power, his wisdom, his mercy, his love—all as evidence that he has kept us, he is keeping us, and he will keep us until the day we see him face-to-face.

So what about you, then? Where do you need assurance that God is keeping you? Where do you need to stop managing threats and take a step of faith? How would your life be different if you trusted completely in “him who is able to keep you from stumbling”?

May we strive to find rest in the mercy of the God who keeps us!