THE DOWNWARD SLIDE

Gaylon Embrey

he road to heaven is an upward road, one that twists and turns it way through time, passing by terrain sometimes beautiful and pleasant, sometimes ugly and unpleasant, but one whose course is always upward toward higher and higher ground. The highway to hell goes the opposite direction. It is downhill all the way.

Thoughtful observers have seen in happen many times. A Christian first slows, then ceases to struggle on the upward way. Whatever the reason for this may be, the result is the same. Soon he begins to slip in the other direction. Before long he has gone down the hill a long way and is moving faster. Realizing what has happened he tries to stop the slide. But it is not easy. Too much momentum. No matter what he does he seems to pick up speed, going further and further downward. Sooner or later he hits bottom; and sure enough, it is a rock bottom. Perhaps, and only perhaps, he then picks up the pieces of his soul and starts over.

The point is pretty simple. No matter how far on the upward way we have traveled in this life, no matter how long or hard we have struggled to get where we are morally and spiritually, we are not yet safe and secure. Our journey is not complete; there may yet be pitfalls and stumbling blocks ahead that will do us in, or we may simply "grow weary in well doing" and quit trying. Unfortunately we do not have to put forth much effort to begin the great descent. It requires very little energy to go downhill. All we need to do is let up, take it easy; the descent will take care of itself. Without trying, and without necessarily being aware of what is happening, we will begin to slip. Just a little at first. But if we do not catch ourselves quickly, we will pick up speed in a hurry. The downhill slide is naturally faster than the uphill climb.

I seriously doubt that any of us, no matter how spiritually strong and sturdy we are right now, can predict how far we might slide into sin if we ever start in that direction. When we allow ourselves to go back into sin we always fall further and faster than we would have dreamed possible. We fool ourselves. When we begin to dabble with sin, we have no intention, we say, of doing anything really bad. We certainly do not plan to become entangled again in the pollutions of the world and be "overcome" thereby (2 Pet. 2:20-22), as so many others have done. Yet once the downward slide commences things get out of hand. We are unable to stop. So down we go bump, bump, bump. Sooner or later we do indeed hit bottom. It has happened too many times with too many good people for any of us to say it will never happen to us.

.We sing a song about Higher Ground, a wonderful song. It says, "I'm pressing on the upward way, New heights I'm gaining every day,." Hopefully this is a true song. Yet let us remember that there is Lower Ground back down the road. If we expect to reach heaven we cannot allow ourselves even to START a downward slide. It is too dangerous. Recovery is too difficult. What awaits on the way down is misery, and what awaits at the bottom is destruction. As the good song says, "Tho some my dwell where these abound, my prayer, my aim is higher ground." The way is up!