There are few things more treacherous in the winter than the invisible frozen water we up north call “black ice.” I was just out walking and did one of those comical arms-flailing almost-falling moves because I thought I was on dry pavement but instead happened upon a patch of ice I couldn’t see.

That’s the danger of black ice. It’s the danger you can’t see. When I know I’m walking on ice, I shorten my stride and look like I’m sneaking up on someone. Life is full of dangers we see and dangers we can’t see. I have found it’s the dangers we don’t see that cause the worst falls.

A pastor is a little like a doctor. People come to see us when something is wrong. You don’t call your doctor very often to tell them how good you’re feeling. A pastor is called when someone is laying on the ground and can’t get up. Many times they have slipped on what I call spiritual black ice.

Spiritual black ice forms slowly. It doesn’t begin by doing something you shouldn’t be doing. It begins by not doing something you should be doing.

Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite days. It might be one of yours, too. But eating turkey with family and loving it doesn’t make me a thankful person. Gratitude is a disposition formed by hundreds of little thank yous. It’s the same with kindness, with faithfulness, with purity, with goodness, with generosity. Every one of these characteristics protects our souls the way salt protects my walkway against black ice.

The day I quit doing the little things is the day the danger begins.

I’ve read scary statistics about how few Christians read their Bibles or look for deliberate ways to serve God in some way. I even read that in any given church more than 50% of the people who attend give less than $500.00 a year, and more than a third don’t give anything at all. There are corresponding statistics about how many homes are shattered each year by infidelity or pornography or addiction.

Black ice forms and then it seems like it’s just a matter of time until someone wipes out. With black ice, you don’t see it coming but you can do something to prevent it from forming. If I could offer advice to anyone with a resolution for 2018, it would be to commit to doing the things you know are right. The more we do that, the less likely it is we will do something we know to be wrong.