Spiritual Practice


Dylan White

Nestled deep in the hills of East Tennessee is a park called Fall Creek Falls, where the outdoorsy-type can find endless hours of enjoyment. The park features multiple waterfalls, campgrounds, hiking trails, a swinging bridge, and a nature center. When I visited with a friend last summer, I spent the day climbing on rocks, overlooking valleys along the hiking trail, and learning a bit about spiritual practice.

Toward the end of the day, my friend and I decided to take a rest. While she waded upstream toward the first cascade, I slowly waded downstream to another waterfall that tumbled into the gorge below. My old tennis shoes were soaked through to my socks. I made it to the edge without difficulty, stood for a few minutes to take in the beautiful scenery, snapped a few photos, and then turned to make my way back to the other end of the creek.

The Lord alone is God;
God alone is our defense.
He is the God who makes me strong,
who makes my pathway safe.
He makes me sure-footed as a deer;
he keeps me safe on the mountains.
Psalm 18:31-33 (GNT)

Instead of wading against the current, I decided to climb up onto the rocky bank. At first, I made my way quickly across the large rocks. But suddenly, the rocks beneath me became smooth, wet, and slippery. My old tennis shoes were no match for the glassy stones; sure enough, after a few unsteady steps, I landed with a thud, falling butt-first into the rushing stream.

“I told you to be careful,” my friend said as I made it back to the bank with my pride bruised to match my backside. “Your shoes probably don’t have much grip on them.”

Those words echoed in my mind the next morning as I read Psalm 18: “God . . . makes me sure-footed as a deer.” I wasn’t very sure-footed yesterday, I chuckled to myself. I thought about why I had fallen. My friend was wearing cleated hiking boots. I was in worn-out sneakers. Her soles were prepared for the tricky terrain. My soles were weak.

When the ground becomes difficult to navigate, the condition of our soles makes all the difference. The same is true when life gets slippery; the condition of our souls makes a difference in how God can enable us to be sure-footed.

If our souls are strong, if we find our strength in God, we will be able to keep our balance on slippery ground. But finding strength in God doesn’t happen overnight; we have to train. Daily spiritual practices exercise our spiritual muscles and help build muscle memory. To become spiritually sure-footed, we can pray, read scripture, and worship when all is well—in preparation for times when life becomes difficult.

Life can knock us off our feet. But if we’re prepared, we can keep our balance. Through prayer and other spiritual practices, we are able to stand when the ground beneath us becomes slippery.



When we follow God’s Word and spend time with Jesus each day, we become like the wise man who built his house on the rock. “The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall” (Matthew 7:25, NRSV).

Listen to “My Feet Are On the Rock” by I AM THEY. When has Christ the Solid Rock enabled you to stand confidently even when times were tough?

Dylan White is the youth leader at Matthews Memorial UMC in Madison, Tennessee, and the Marketing Manager for The Upper Room Rising Generations.

—from devozine (September/October 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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