Traction Cleats. A rubber harness with steel spikes that you attach to the soles of your shoes to prevent slipping in icy conditions.
Weeks of a pattern of snow/melt/rain/snow left the potential for the sidewalks and roads in our neighbourhood to be icy. After slipping on the ice a couple of times, my wife decided to invest in a pair of traction cleats for us. It was incredible the difference they made. No, they didn’t completely stop you from slipping, but they provided an element of security that was both material and psychological. Roughly translated, that meant that when wearing my traction cleats, I still proceeded with caution; however, I had the peace of mind that the cleats plus the caution would be enough to avert another fall.
I believe the biggest problem with the cleats was that they didn’t always stay on, and as long as we were walking on snow, we didn’t exactly know when we had lost them. We got in the habit of checking our feet on a regular basis to make sure those cleats were still clinging to our boots, and when we discovered a bare boot, we would retrace our steps until we found the wayward piece of rubber. As time went on, we began to notice when they fell away. In fact, we began to feel when they were starting to fall away, and we were able to readjust them in order to avoid the search for the lost cleat.
Our walk through life can also be pretty slippery at times. Circumstances beyond our control sometimes make the path we must trod very slippery. These circumstances may be related to world events; they may be a result of illness or broken relationships or financial difficulties; or they may be mental or spiritual in nature as well, as so many struggle with depression and anxiety, doubt, worry, grief. We have no choice but to tread these paths; but as we go, it doesn’t seem to matter how much we pay attention, our feet are constantly slipping out from under us and we so often find ourselves defeated, unable to move forward, completely inhibited by the trials. Oh for a pair of traction cleats on these slippery paths!
Wait. Not everyone falls into the traps of worry and doubt. Some seem to be walking on top of their circumstances… Could it be that there are spiritual traction cleats?
I would say the answer is “yes”! Those “spiritual traction cleats” are none other than putting our faith in God’s unfailing love! When life’s circumstances leave us feeling like our feet are about to slip out from under us, we can put our trust in God’s love! “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” (1 John 4:16-17 NIV)
And when we are firmly secured in God’s love, there is no room for fear: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19 NRSV).
This doesn’t mean the way will always be smooth, for Jesus said, “…In this world you will have trouble….” (John 16:33b NIV). The “ice and snow” of life’s trials will still come. But the “spiritual traction cleats” of faith in God’s unending love will keep us from slipping!
We’ve all experienced times, however, when we do take a firm stand in faith. But as the trials and circumstances and problems continue, we somehow lose that faith. How can we stop this from happening?
Just like I must do with my traction cleats, we need to continually double check that our faith is solid. If we find it has disappeared completely, then we need to do an about-face and retrace our steps to find it again. This will mean getting back into God’s Word. It will mean spending time meditating on the unfailing love of God. But as time goes on and we become more and more accustomed to walking in faith, we will begin to notice when our faith is beginning to slip. Then is the time to “readjust” our “traction cleats” of faith. Again, we need to spend time with God, meditating on His unfailing love, choosing to believe.
As I continue to walk in my physical traction cleats, I hope to begin understanding what is making them come off in the first place. In the same way, we want to try to ascertain what is causing our faith to slip. Are we letting doubt enter? Are we letting others influence us? Are we allowing discouragement to settle in? Are we basing our faith on our circumstances, and those circumstances don’t seem to be going away?
Once we have identified what is causing our faith to slip, we can renounce it in the name of Jesus and once again choose our faith! Remember, the Bible tells us: “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’ And ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.‘ But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:36-39 NIV)
Traction cleats, anyone? How about some rock-solid faith in God’s unfailing love to carry you through the troubled times?
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries