During my undergraduate studies, I took a few statistics classes as a part of my degree plan. And though a lot of that knowledge has come and gone, there are a few terms and exercises I remember. One of those involved the importance of drawing a trendline.
A trendline is different than a line graph. In a line graph, you are connecting points to each other, no matter where those points are on the axis. With a line graph, you might be a steep high and a dramatic low point connected together to where the line is a constant up and down kind of peak and valley look. But the trendline is meant to demonstrate the direction of the change over a period of time. Rather than connecting all the individual points, the trendline is drawn through the middle of all those points to show whether or not there is a pattern.
This kind of line doesn’t answer whether there are high high’s and low low’s; instead, it’s meant to visually show the overall trajectory of the data. In real life, you might use a trendline, for example, to predict stock values. Yes, a stock might be super high on a given day, and be super low on another given day. But given time – what is the price of the stock doing? Is it going up, despite those low’s? Or is it going down, despite those high’s? That’s the trend.
And perhaps the same kind of thinking can be helpful when thinking about our walk with Christ. Reason being, each one of us are going to have both high’s and low’s when it comes to following Jesus. There will be days when the Word of God seems to jump off the page; when we are excited about giving ourselves fully over to the will of God; when we are freely sharing the gospel and pursuing holiness with gladness; when we are thankful and praying and rejoicing and learning.
But then again, there will be low’s:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).
We have sinned, and we will continue to do so. We will sin through acts of commission and acts of omission, through doing what we know to be wrong and through failing to do what we know to be right. These are low’s, each and every one of them. And yet those low’s comes with a promise found in the next verse:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Because of the unending grace of Jesus, each low – each time we stumble – we can get up again. In His grace, Jesus lifts us to our feet and we continue on, which brings us to the trendline…
Every Christian stumbles, but we are stumbling forward.
Yes, there are low’s, but the trendline of our lives is upward. It is toward Christlikeness. And it’s not so based on our own strength, resilience, or resolve, but because this is what God has willed for us in Christ Jesus:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph. 1:3-4).
Christian, you will stumble today. So will I. And yet we can get up and continue on because of God’s grace. When we do, we will see slowly but surely God is doing something in us. He is making us more like Jesus. This is our trendline – to stumble, and yet to stumble forward.