The phone rang and I stepped out of the church office, because I like to walk and talk on the phone. Long before there were devices tallying my steps, I have preferred to walk and talk.
I was making my first lap around the historic chapel that anchors our campus when my eyes stopped at something out of place: a nail. It was in the middle of the asphalt that wraps around the front of the building, where hundreds of cars pass each week. It struck me that it could have been entirely possible that someone who showed up to attend worship - to sing praise to God, to reorient themselves to the true north that Jesus provides, to listen to the Word of God offered, to connect in fellowship that changes their heart - could have been the very one to have that nail pierce their tire as they pull away. It doesn't seem right that you could spend an hour doing right only to walk outside and suffer wrong.
In Genesis 4, right after Cain stands before God and doesn't get what he wants, God warms him to be careful, because "sin will be waiting at the door ready to strike." Cain stepped on that nail.
In Mark 8, right after Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah, his very next step is to rebuke Jesus to act according to Peter's terms and not those of heaven. Peter stepped on that nail.
Throughout the teachings of Jesus, both the commandments that point to the truest way to the live and the stories that are laced with wisdom, Jesus is also offering words of warning. In Matthew 24, Jesus begins an entire chapter about what is ahead with the words, “Watch out that no one deceives you." He warning them about stepping on that nail.
It does not seem fair, but it is true; we must be careful. John Wesley's three simple rules begin with "Do No Harm." Surely that includes the harm that is done to ourselves when we don't watch out for the nails that would pierce our bodies and harm our souls. What do they look like to you? Anger, fear, resentment, worry, doubt, greed, lust, contempt? Don't step on that nail.
Grace and peace, Scott