I love to watch new baby goats take their first wobbly steps. They clumsily struggle to get all four legs steady and squarely under them and then they take a step, topple and have to start the whole process over again. Unlike human babies, baby goats get their balance within hours of birth, but they still remind me of toddlers as they take their first wobbly steps.
As I watch them, I wonder if they would continue to try so hard if they knew how many times they would fall. I wonder the same thing about us; would we continue to try if we knew how often we would fall or stumble in our life time? Is the desire to move and be mobile so strong that as babies we continue to try despite the risk of falling? As we grow older, are we motivated by confidence in our own ability and balance or do we so strongly need to move that we continue to walk despite the knowledge that we could still trip and stumble? Perhaps, it is a little of both – confidence in our ability and balance as well as a desperate need to move. It is also possible that most of the time walking is just a part of our nature and we do it without thinking much about the steps we take.
Scripture often references the stages of our Christian walk to the same stages of physical growth through which we advance beginning in infancy. I wonder if the effort we make to overcome sin is much like the effort we make to walk – it is something that we as Christians simply must do even though we know we will stumble and fall many times. Of course there is much to be said about this and I know that we could not even attempt to stand were it not for the grace that is given us – for we can do nothing in our own strength. Nor am I trying to make a case for legalism; however, we cannot deny that the law is the very definition of sin and without it we could not understand or define sin or righteousness.
But once we have been given the grace to stand to our feet and begin this Christian journey, I think that there is – or should be – within us a desire so strong to live a sinless life that it is just like walking – we cannot sit where we are but must continue to get up and move on. As we grow older we sometimes have to be reminded that our ability and balance does not come from within ourselves and we can still stumble and fall. But although sin is also part of our nature, shouldn’t our new nature so strongly desire to live a righteous life that it becomes embedded within our hearts and we just get up a walk because it is part of our nature to move. In fact, it becomes so much a part of who we are that we walk towards righteousness without pride in our efforts or ever thinking we might chose otherwise. We may never achieve righteousness, but we get up and walk onward none-the-less.