Today’s scripture: Matthew 18:7-9 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Melody Merida):

I’ve always disliked this portion of Scripture. There, I said it! It took me several days letting this passage marinate in my brain before I could write anything about it. I remember this passage as a child giving me nightmares thinking about people cutting off their limbs so they wouldn’t steal anymore or gouging out their eyes so they wouldn’t covet their neighbor’s wife. I didn’t even know what coveting was but I was terrified of it! How gruesome can you get?!

But now I’ve heard something else in the passage, something a little less gruesome. When I was a teenager I worked at the local Wendy’s. I was 17, had just graduated from high school and loved my new-found freedom. Because most of my contemporaries were still in high school, I got to work the closing shift with the college aged kids. This was my first foray into what I’d later learn was “the real world”; that place which I had heard existed outside of my über-conservative Baptist bubble. The place where women could wear pants and people could go to movies!

Each night after closing, around 1:00 or 2:00 am, the closing crew would sit in the Wendy’s parking lot and do stupid things to entertain ourselves. Some people drank too much, some people turned their music up too loud, and some people played the Ouija board. I was new to all of this and didn’t know where to dive in so I spent some time just observing. After a while, I tried the Ouija board with the others but I couldn’t get it to work; each time I touched the main piece it would slide off the board. After a few days of trying, I gave up. Some of the other kids asked the board why it wouldn’t work for me. The reply it spelled out was “God is with her.” Now, believe what you want about the Ouija board: at best it really was evil spelling out the answer (in which case it was scary as heck), at worst it was my friends own hands spelling out the answer. I say at worst because of what I did next.

I had had enough of being the church girl — I wanted to be the wild child! This answer that I was sure my friends had chosen for me was proof enough that my goody-goody reputation had gotten out of control. So I ranted using a few choice words about God, grabbed the first drink I could get my 17 year old hands on and drank until I couldn’t stand up any longer. That would teach them to say anything about God being with me!

The very next day I regretted my decision. Not only was I as sick as I had ever been, but I was miserable in my soul. When I went to work that night one of the guys I worked with said he was surprised by my actions the night before because he always thought I was different from everyone else. He said he knew then that I wasn’t. He was genuinely disappointed in me. He, and everyone else I worked with, was watching me. He was watching to see if everything I said I was matched the person I really was. In one day I ruined it. That day I became his stumbling-block. I tried to make up for it in the remaining months before I went away to college but things never were the same between us.

People are watching us even when we don’t think they are. Everyday we have the choice to share the light of Christ or to be a stumbling-block in someone’s path toward that light. I’ve felt the sting of the latter and the joy of the former; it’s a no-brainer which one we want to choose. When you least expect it someone is watching to see how a child of God responds in the everyday muck of life. Pause for a minute before you speak or act and ask the Spirit whether or not your words or actions will bring light or darkness. It may be the most important decision you make!

Thought for the day: Which choice will you make? Will your words or actions cause someone to turn away from their journey toward God or will you help point their way home?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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