By Sarah Lloyd
One of my favorite memories from childhood is spending warm summer evenings riding bikes around the neighborhood. My older siblings and a handful of neighbor kids would get together and race each other up and down the steep hills surrounding our homes. At first, my little bike with training wheels satisfied my thirst for inclusion and speed, but my ambition soon grew to include the goal of learning to ride an adult-sized bike all by myself. On my own, this would have been a disaster ending in at least one broken bone, but my dad taught me to ride his bike, step-by-step. He showed me how to climb onto the long banana seat and reach for the handlebars to steer. Soon, I was able to balance the bike on my own for several seconds at a time, but he was always there, ready to grab that handle as soon as I started to fall. When I started riding down the hills, he kept me from crashing by holding on to the seat handle, while running behind me.
Just as my earthly father gave me instructions as I learned to ride a bike, our heavenly Father gives us steps to follow as we learn to walk with Him. In last week’s study, we saw the importance of keeping ourselves in the love of God, building ourselves up in the faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, and waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 20-21). Whenever we are overwhelmed by life, we can return to prayer, to Bible study, and to spending time with others, who share our love for the Lord. No matter how busy or tired I am on a Thursday, I find myself encouraged and strengthened by attending Bible study with my spiritual sisters at UFC. When I lose hope in a world where ungodliness and division seem to thrive, I find peace in reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer with other believers. As I follow Jude’s instructions, I remember that it is not up to me to keep myself from stumbling, but that my heavenly Father and my spiritual family members are right there to help me along the way.
Although I can now ride a bike without assistance, I still sometimes feel like a little girl, wobbling along in life, trying to keep myself from falling. Our world is full of strife and worry as we are faced with the upcoming election cycle, the spread of a new virus, and daily headlines full of anxiety-producing news. All around me I see ungodliness, loud-mouthed boasters, and those who cause divisions (Jude 15-19). The Bible doesn’t ignore or dismiss our concerns, but explicitly states that we will experience difficult times. Jesus Himself told His disciples that the world would hate them, that He would be betrayed and killed! Yet, He also gave them hope: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). As a child, my sense of stability rested not in my own ability to ride a bike right away, but in my dad’s ability to overcome each obstacle we encountered as he held onto me. Today our peace is not found in an easy, trouble-free life, but in a God who is greater than it all, who is with us and supporting us.
This week, we get to study the last two verses of Jude, known as the doxology. It begins with the words “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling.” This is one of my favorite phrases in the entire Bible because it reminds me once again that my heavenly Father does not leave me on my own, trying all by myself to identify false teachers and to contend for the faith. As I read through the book of Jude, I see how impossible it is for me to keep myself from stumbling through a broken and confusing world. What a relief it is to read in Jude’s doxology that my God is the only God, He is my Savior, He is able not only to keep me from stumbling but also to present me as blameless before His glorious presence! When I rely on God to do these things instead of trying to do them on my own, I am filled with great joy. With Jude, I can give glory to my Savior, who has dominion and authority over all of the people and events in our world, before all time and now and forever. Amen!
Sarah Lloyd grew up reading and diagramming sentences for entertainment, homeschooled with her five siblings from kindergarten through high school. Her college years were spent studying science, running for the Oregon Ducks, and falling in love with her witty husband. Over the past ten years, she has taught at a small public classical school, admiring the great works of literature created throughout history. She enjoys inductive Bible study, running and hiking in Oregon’s beautiful wilderness, singing in a capella harmony, and planning road trips to spend time with her ten nieces and nephews.