None of us want to hold someone back from their God potential. But what if our caring or joking was causing someone to stumble in their walk with God?
Years ago, a dear friend of ours was having a hard time in a relationship. Her Facebook posts were becoming hysterical antics of what the other person did wrong. Which caused my husband and I to start to cover her in prayer.
I’ll stop here and tell ya’ll, when I throw my husband under the bus in a hilarious social media post, he is either sitting right next to me laughing even harder, or he knows and approves of the laughing moment. Because we know how laughter can help in a relationship and how needed it is in today’s world. But, in these cases, we knew the other half wasn’t aware of these posts. And they were becoming more frequent.
So after much prayer we decided to send a quick message along the lines of ‘do you mean to post this stuff online? It doesn’t really show the love of God.’
We sat back waiting to be unfriended. Only half kidding. Because I knew her heart was after God’s in a stalker’ish kind of way. I was pretty sure she wasn’t posting these things fully aware of how they looked to the outside world.
It was confirmed when she replied, “Do I?” and then (as you could hear her finger swiping through her own posts), “Oh my, I didn’t realize I was doing this.”
That was the last day we ever saw a post that could be construed even a little poorly about her spouse.
Flash forward several years and I am sitting at the table with her and she is pouring out her frustration that it’s been many years since she has posted, or spoken, anything mean about her man and yet, she has to relive this part of her life every time she is around a group of friends. “They joke about it and comment on how they are going to make a note about me not talking bad about him.”
And then it comes…. “It’s like I can’t move past, who I was, to become who God is making me into! I am constantly reliving the old me and reminded that I am a THAT person. When I am not that person anymore!”
Flash to my own life at that moment…
Having been recovering from a traumatic event that spanned over a few years and trying desperately to move past it and back into the arms of God (because I allowed myself to get lost), I knew exactly what she was talking about. During my own event I was fully aware that some of my thoughts and actions were not very Christ-like. At all. But knowing that God was a forgiving God and gracious with Grace and Mercy I did the work on myself in private (and public) to correct my thinking and move closer to God.
It was hard!
Except every time I was near a few select group of people I would be reminded of the horrors that occurred and the past would be dredged up time and time again.
It was painful. Painful to relive and painful to face what I had gone through and while I knew God brought me through it for a purpose, it was becoming apparent I wouldn’t be able to put it in my past, but I would have to relive it every time I was with a specific group of individual’s.
One day through the course of reading I ‘stumbled’ (get it?) across Matthew 16:23 and 18:5-7:
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
“If anyone causes one of these little ones-those who believe in me-to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”
Then I had to turn to my favorite dictionary and seek what it really meant this Stumbling-Block word…
Webster Dictionary 1828 defines Stumbling-Block: Any cause of stumbling; that which causes to err.
So all the work I did in preparing my heart to love again and head out into the world only to be reminding of how painful the world was to me and how poorly I handled it and to question myself as to why I should even try further….. That is a stumbling block!
Being reminded that you will eventually speak negative of someone instead of being held up as a changed Godly woman is indeed a stumbling block.
Have you ever realized you were a stumbling block to someone else?
Do you have people in your world that are a stumbling block to you?
Making mistakes is the human part in us. Rest assured, I am not and will not be perfect. But I desire to go out into this world and shine the light of God and how amazing and righteous he is! But that is nearly impossible when there is someone reminding us of who we were.
So I personally had a choice to make:
I could choose to remove myself from the group of people and hope that time would change things and eventually I could work my way back in to that world. (I actually tried this for several months, it was very apparent it wasn’t God’s choice for everyone in that group.)
I could confront them at the time and be open and honest with what the reminders were doing to me.
I chose the latter. On an individual basis I slowly began to talk to the people that brought up my past. Because in my heart I truly felt that they weren’t bringing it up for harmful sinister reasons… But that they were truly trying to find things to talk to me about.
Let’s face it, I see the glazed look in my families eye’s as I talk about Permaculture and Gardening and the surgery I did on a chickens foot. Small talk is hard for people that are used to solving someone’s issues and then moving on to the next call…
It’s the fact I am trying that matters. And to be honest, in a way, I felt that some needed help to move on from the trauma as well. It really did affect many lives.
How do you even tell if you are a stumbling block to someone? The first place to start is in prayer. When I pray for my friend I spoke about earlier, I pray for her future, for the amazing grace God has shined upon her and the magnificent relationship she is in now. I don’t bring her past up to God… He’s forgiven her of that. If I don’t bring it up to God… I don’t bring it up to her.
Because to be honest…. If God can forgive her and wash it away, It’s the example of what I should do for her. Forgiveness, Grace and Mercy and Love.
Here is something that I tuck in the back of my mind…. Genisis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
If we really believed that…. Wouldn’t we be focused more on healing and where God is leading us… then, the pain and where we came from?
Forgiveness. Grace. Mercy. Love.
I Practice them daily.