Thursday, September 17, 2009

"I will look up..."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
Matthew 14: 28-31

Ever have those moments (I call them “God Breezes”) when you witness- and are able to recognize an event that is a direct application of a Bible teaching? When something in life so closely mirrors what God was trying to teach us through His story that everything just clicks into place? They happen to me often these days, and more and more as I spend daily moments in scripture. I wonder sometimes if that means I am closer to God, or more open to His teachings, or if I can see more because I know more. Or perhaps a combination of all of these things. No matter, I am blessed by the God Breezes that sway through the branches of my life.
One such God breeze came just a few weeks ago when I was ice skating with my children. My son had been begging me all summer to take them ice skating, and I had, regretfully, kept putting it off. But it was (literally) the last day of summer vacation, so I decided to make good on my commitment to take my kids and laced up my skates.
None of us are stellar ice skaters, but I did spend most of my formative years on a pair of roller skates (I could roller skate before I could officially walk), so at some level, ice skating comes naturally. My son has inherited that ability I think. After one time around the rink, holding tightly to the wall, he took a deep breath, let go of the wall, and began skating on his own. “Look, Mom! I’m doing it!” he exclaimed, and was off. My little man…wow, how they grow up so fast.
My six year old daughter was not as brave as her brother and still clung, white knuckled, to the wall and to my hand, not really skating, but more pulling her self along- kind of swinging herself through like she was on crutches. After, Xander’s second time around the rink, her competitive spirit began to overtake her apprehension and she decided it was time to let go of the wall. After a lap around the rink, holding tightly to my hand, she said, “Mom, I want to try to skate to you. Go out to the middle." So, after she adjusted my position several times with a few directions- “a little closer, no too close, no too far…good right there,” she took a deep breath and a step away from the security of the wall. Immediately unsure of herself, she turned back.
Mama Cari went away and Coach Cari immediately stepped in to support her (as I do with my clients when they are trying desperately to forge a new path in their lives.) “Ok Lizzie, I am just five steps away. Keep your eyes on me, push off and skate to me. You can do this! Just keep your eyes on me!” Lizzie took a deep breath, centered herself and pushed away from the wall. One step, two steps- she was completely out of reach of the wall now- three steps- oh I was so proud of my brave soldier- four steps- suddenly, you could see doubt slip in and replace the ecstatic look of accomplishment that had been in her face just seconds before. I saw it and immediately rushed to catch her focus with my words, “Almost here, come on baby…you’re doing it!”
But just as I said it, her doubt overcame her and she looked down, instantly faltering. Her weight, shifted by the motion, threw her forward. As she fell I, leaned forward to catch her just before she landed on the ice. “You made it!” I exclaimed…but she was not as happy with her accomplishment. “No, I didn’t, Mama…I took my eyes off you. I looked down.”
God tapped me on the shoulder, “does this remind you of a Bible story?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied, in a sad small way. “Peter looked down, too. He didn’t have the faith that Jesus would protect him, I guess I didn’t either.”
It’s so true. You know looking back on my life, most of my failures have come when I am so close to victory I can almost touch it, but I take my eyes off Christ for just a split second, and find myself face down on the ice. It is not Christ’s fault. He is still there, cheering me on, holding the space for me…it is mine, I doubt and look down, forget that He won’t let me fall and begin to rely on my own feeble balance to hold me up. And while that is a lesson I continue to learn, and one that my daughter learned that day, I also find a more important lesson in this story.
God will be there to catch us. Even when we doubt Him and try to do it ourselves. He will pick us up, brush us off and send us out to try again. Just like I did for Elizabeth that day. “You did great! You almost made it! I will catch you if you fall…let’s try again!” and she did. It took her three tries to make it to me without falling. Three times she looked down and tripped herself up. On the fourth, she said, “Mom….I will not look down this time…I will look up.” And so she did, and thus achieved her mission.
She is now off and circling the rink with her brother. “Look, Mom! I’m doing it!” she exclaims, and off she goes. Wow, they grow so fast….

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