Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
- Jesus (John 13:17)
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.
- the apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:13)
On a short trail run recently, I got out on the trail after several days of on and off rain. The trail wasn’t unbearably muddy, but there was one clue that no one had been out hiking or running recently. And it was the kind of clue that you couldn’t see coming until it hit you in the face. Several spider webs sprawled from one tree to another, spun unknowingly across the footpath I was using. And unfortunately, my face was the source of their destruction. Over and over again.
This was not a new experience for me. I’ve run through many of these invisible nightmares before. At one point I was driven to the brink and began carrying a long stick as I ran, swinging it in front of me as I barreled down the trail like an unhinged shirtless vigilante, fencing with an imaginary adversary.
At best, breaking through spiderwebs are awkward and uncomfortable. At worst, they are terrifying.
But they accomplish something.
They make it easier for the next person to walk the path.
When I thought about it like that (and as I passed a lady entering the trail walking her dog), I began to feel like maybe all that discomfort was worth it.
Disciples of Jesus are called to be "web breakers" in our relationships. We are the ones who, following Jesus, are willing to be uncomfortable if it means that others can walk a little more easily. It may be easier to just avoid the trail altogether, but life rarely affords us this luxury. Instead, someone has to be the one go first, or else no progress will ever be made.
There are lots of ways to break webs.
- Be the first to apologize and really listen when a relationship is in a standoff or a stalemate.
- Initiate the weird conversation with your spouse about learning how to pray together as a couple.
- Intentionally leave behind destructive habits and attitudes that have become normalized among work friends.
- Take the first step in having difficult but important conversations with loved ones.
- Admit weakness and give others permission to do the same.
- Step out in faith and love so that others see the freedom in it and follow.
On many hikes with my family, it has become my task to break webs on the trail, hopefully making it just a bit less uncomfortable for the them to continue the journey. I hope I can do the same in other areas of my life.
Web-breakers know that in a culture of comfort, living the Jesus way will always feel tough at first. But when we are willing to have the awkward conversations, love the difficult people, and take the first step in faithfulness, we make it easier for the ones beside and behind us.
Someone’s gotta go first. Don’t be afraid.
Jesus, help me take initiative in doing the good things, the hard things, that help us keep moving on the journey. May my discomfort help others move more easily.