Stepping Stones vs. Stumbling Blocks – Which One Are You?

God places special people in the life of each one of us—grandparents, parents, siblings, and friends—who guide us and join us in our walk as believers. They are Holy Spirit inspired relationships that pave the way of our lives.

The relationships God wants you to build are probably already in your life. You just need to build on what's already there. Let's face it; we live in a time where feeling lonely and isolated is the new normal. Women of all ages feel as though we're not connecting with anyone—especially other women. Technology, stress, unpredictable economic times, demanding schedules, and families all feed isolation. We use the word busy like an elite calling card. How are you? Oh, I'm fine. Just busy, busy, busy!! I have been working on deleting this word from my vocabulary because busy becomes an excuse for lack of friendship. We're all busy! But these issues, no matter how valid, block communication and discourage intimacy.

A stepping stone friend is mindful of God's plans for her friend's life while a stumbling block considers only the world's ways. Are you a stepping stone to Jesus . . . or a stumbling block? God will show you those friendships already in your life that he wants to become stepping stone friendships. Start planting seeds of goodness in those friendships already in your life. Some of these seeds are going to take root becoming lifelong friendships.

Stepping stones simply walk alongside a friend, loving and encouraging them, especially when God is working something out in their life. The secret to preventing stepping stones from turning into stumbling blocks? Love Each Other.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but by my Father who is in heaven. I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven."

Jesus is acknowledging that Peter is not only a stepping stone as a follower of Jesus but also a rock that Hell cannot prevail against. Jesus then warned his disciples not to tell anyone He was the Christ. He knew He had to let God prepare the way. It is important to guard our friends and let God work out whatever is going on in their lives. We need to let God prepare the way. We need to trust God's timing. Jesus wanted His disciples trusting His timing.

Let's look at what happened in the very next section of Matthew 16! Jesus began to explain that he must suffer many things, be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Far be it from you, Lord!" he said. "This will never be done to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind the things of God, but the things of men." Peter was so sad he did not want to see Jesus suffer! Yet Jesus knew that suffering was the pathway to eternal life and all a part of God's will for him.

Now, imagine what Mary and Elizabeth were to each other! They complemented each other, understood each other, and shared what is probably the most fascinating and phenomenal stepping stone friendship in the history of mankind. They clearly saw the significance of God in their friendship. Elizabeth would give birth to the prophet paving the way for the Son of God while Mary would give birth to the Son of God! Both received instructions from the Lord and in this defining moment said yes to his desire for their lives. Sharing this spiritual encounter together formed a forever friendship between these two women. They became stepping stones straight to the heart of God for each other.

Yet, they were different, with different backgrounds, and Elizabeth was older and long married. She was farther along in her pregnancy. She was able to share life experiences, feelings, and wisdom that helped make the load lighter for a lonely, young, vulnerable girl. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months before returning to her own home. Together they shared all those little things about life that would make the burden of pregnancy and what would follow bearable. They were together during this moment in time determining the destiny of mankind forever. They were stepping stones straight to the heart of Jesus by loving Him and loving each other. Let their example prevent your stepping stones from becoming stumbling blocks!

When we love each other with the unfailing love of Jesus putting all else aside, there is the feeling we can't do enough for each other. Stepping stones listen to the sweet soft voice of the Holy Spirit. It is always for the good of others that He speaks and ultimately the good of your own soul.

Only through God can we do this! (Col. 1:17 - He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.) He flows through Godly relationships that hold us together. This is ultimately why Godly friendships are so important. God uses it all to bring us to him.