I was walking to our sons’ school with the youngest son’s football gear stuffed in my backpack. Cyndy was running errands after dropping them off at school. In the waking up atmosphere of sleepy-eyed confusion in which things can slip teenage minds, J.D. had forgotten his gear on the couch. Of course, he had to have it right away. It was a hot and fairly humid day. Which was not conducive to walking long distances on sidewalks with slight, intermittent, shade.

When I am walking, I watch the ground ahead of me – for several reasons. For one thing, I walk quickly which requires watching the terrain. And by watching the ground ahead of me, I am not constantly reminded of how far away my goal is at any given time. I have also found a large number of coins over the years (albeit mostly pennies).

I walk in long strides, setting up a quick rhythm. Inevitably, I set my stride with the aim of missing the cracks in the sidewalk. Lengthening my stride when the situation requires it. At some point the superstition of my youth slips through – bringing to mind the phrase we used to say.

“Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.”

Do I believe it? Not really. Do I avoid the cracks? You betcha – just to be on the safe side. And I will have you know that to this day my mother has not broken her back. A few other things maybe, but not her back. I will also have you know that I do not think my avoiding cracks had a thing to do with it.

Yet, as I was walking to my son’s school, I was avoiding the cracks. Mostly to set up a rhythm in my stride, but avoiding the cracks nonetheless. That got me to thinking – as walking is wont to do – about avoiding cracks and hedging bets.

As a general rule, I can set a rhythm or pace and move quickly along while still avoiding the cracks. As we as Christians can go about our life in the secular world, avoiding the larger, more obvious sins. But then I come across a section of sidewalk – or life – that has begun to show wear, causing a conundrum. There are so many cracks that even a hop-scotch afficionado would have trouble traversing the area.

So which cracks count in the break your mother’s back scenario? If it is a natural part of the sidewalk which was purposefully made that way, is that considered a crack? Is it just the cracks that have developed over time from wear and weather that count? Or do all cracks count, causing the situation to be crucially problematic?

In our Christian lives the question – considering the cracks as sins – is which sins to avoid. Which cracks are actually sins? And which cracks are part of the sidewalk as it was made? When we come to the section with too many cracks to avoid them all, which do we choose not to avoid?

We are human and cannot avoid all sin. And not all the cracks in life’s sidewalk are sins. Some cracks are merely faults in the sidewalk. Fortunately, “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” is just a game. Unfortunately, life is not a game. Even though it might seem that way at one time or another. Some of the cracks we try to cross in life are wider and deeper than we could have imagined.

When we reach those rough spots in life’s sidewalk, we wonder if we took the wrong path – if we are on the wrong sidewalk. We are unsure which cracks to avoid and which cracks are okay to step on. What false idols we have succumbed to and need to avoid, and what we should be embracing more than we are.

During those times of rough spots, when our paths reach too many cracks in the sidewalk and other obstacles, we need to recall what Paul said to the Corinthians. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” Corinthians 10:13.

As we walk along life’s sidewalk, we need to put our faith in God, and trust the path we take. By the grace of God we make it to the end of the sidewalk.

 Peace be with you.