A couple years ago, just before we rented out our house, I decided the basement stairs needed a makeover. They are just ordinary wood stairs, with ordinary drywall walls that were unfinished. I mudded the drywall, sanded it and then painted it. I slapped up a decorate molding on the sill plate where the house walls met the top of the block basement. And then painted the walls a nice neutral color. But the steps themselves still looked like basic wood construction. So I lightly sanded them and then stained them. Then I polyeurethaned them for a finished shiny look. I thought I was going over and above when I found some really nice tweed carpet stair tread that set in the middle of the step, gave it a nice look and was just a little more finished looking than before. I carefully laid out where the middle of each step was, both side to side and front to back so the rectangular treads were placed center on the steps and secured them with a power nailer. Each time I stood at the top of the stairs, I felt somewhat impressed with myself. But after two years, those pretty little carpet treads have come loose from those nails and now slide all over the place.
They’re getting irritating enough that they probably need to go. But lately, I’ve noticed something about these small, now movable, rectangular carpets. Somebody is changing their placement, all of them, and purposely. Some days when I go downstairs, all the treads are lined up on the left. Another time, they will all be on the right. And then, even more often, one is on the left, the next step on the right, the next step on the left, and so on. Now, if you start off on the right foot at the top of the stairs, you’ll step on the right one with your right foot and the left with your left foot until you meet the bottom. It just feels right to step on the carpet tread each time. But, if you start off on the wrong foot, you’ll miss the carpet on each step!
I found myself wondering who is always changing the pattern of the treads? Who thought to put one every other side on every other step? That’s kind of smart if you ask me. A thinker, an organized planner. Someone who steps with their right foot first. The other question then would be, when someone moves them all to the left, or all to the right, is it the same someone who is moving the treads back and forth? Or is it dueling brothers and sisters making this subtle change to the basement stairs each time. It’s kind of funny really. I haven’t sat them all down and asked who or why. To be truthful, the mystery kind of amuses me.
Tonight, I was reading a section of scripture to the ladies in my Wednesday night study. The passage was from James 4 that discusses how dangerous it is to tear each other down. It sort of got me thinking about the how the body of Christ relates to my stairs’ mystery. You see my stairs, they go to the same place no matter where the treads are. No matter where you start your walk, on the right of the steps, or on the left….whether you walk straight down the tidy little middle…or whether you alternate your feet from the left to the right. God made us to walk a single narrow path and staying on the right path isn’t always easy. (Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it) But if you choose to skip down the path, or jump down the path, or sing down the path or just sweetly walk down the path, as long as you’re on the path….that’s the body of Christ. We are different. We were made different and we have different abilities and different personalities. Rather than get riled up about the way someone else gets something done, we’re best just to cheer them on. I can tell you who that is hardest for. Me. I like things done my way. And I can get my feathers a little ruffled when things don’t happen just the way I think they should. What a picture of the narrow path and the body of Christ those stairs are. You see, if I jump into the path to complain about how someone else is walking down it, even though they’re going the same place I am, I might force them off the path just to get past my opinionated-ness. It’s hard enough to stay on the path as it is, let alone having someone discourage you off of it. Yes, we need to get along in the body of Christ. We need to cheer each other on down the path. We need to cherish the one who skips, or sings, or jumps along that path. We need to cheer and encourage the one who lumbers down in. But we don’t need to cause dissension by insisting they walk the path a certain way. How real this lesson is to me just because of my take charge personality! Now, more than ever, I hope the stair treads keep up their ever changing patterns. It’s a beautiful reminder to me to encourage others in the walk…no matter how God designed them!
James 4:1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. (The Message)