Last summer as I was traveling, I noticed a toddler trying his best to step off the curb and into the parking lot. It was quite a challenge for him, so I zoomed in closer. As I observed this little guy struggling to do something that, as adults, we don’t even think about, it reminded me of some spiritual truths. I’d love to share some of them with you.
#1 -- God watches us just as I watched this young toddler -- sometimes smiling, sometimes shaking His head, sometimes with a tear in His eye. Do you think He wonders why we let such little obstacles become such big hurdles? Do you think He reaches down His hand to help us over the hurdle if we would only take it? Do you think it makes Him sad when we should be able to step off that curb with confidence, but instead -- we are reticent, challenged, and fearful by something so insignificant?
#2 -- It’s a step in that kid’s maturity -- just like we are all at different places in our spiritual journey. Yet, sometimes, we judge others by how WE think they should handle an obstacle (or in OUR timetable. . .”They should be over that by now!” “How long is she going to grieve for her brother? It’s been 5 years!” “Why can’t he just let it go?” ) The Bible talks quite a lot about our spiritual maturity, and there are many ways to think about that. We always want to encourage one another to continue to mature spiritually, but we want to be kind and loving always. While we want to encourage maturity, we don’t want to beat people over the head with it. We need to realize that some people are young in their faith, and that little curb to us is a track and field hurdle to them. We need to lovingly guide each other across the curbs/hurdles with brotherly/sisterly affection.
#3 -- When we hit those things that are hurdles for us, we need to sometimes reach out for a waiting hand. God’s hand is ALWAYS available. Other brothers and sisters/friends and family are often available with arms outstretched as well. In our churches, we need to create an atmosphere where it’s okay to struggle and ask for help to overcome. Sometimes we are so busy trying to be strong and independent when there is a ready hand available to help -- and we don’t have to overcome the hurdle alone -- even if it is just a curb. .. Sometimes, we just need someone close by. Sometimes we just need a cheerleader. Sometimes, we need help with balance. Sometimes we want someone available to catch us if we fall from trying something challenging.
#4 -- It’s all a matter of perspective -- When I look at the curb in the parking lot, it seems very insignificant to me. However, if I look at it through the eyes of that toddler, it becomes something else altogether. That curb reaches his knee -- or maybe a bit higher -- If I have to step up on something as tall as my knee or a bit higher -- that takes more energy, more concentration, more balance, more strength --and perhaps, some help -- especially as I age and my knees don’t work as well as they once did. From his perspective, it’s a hurdle -- and rightly so -- let’s don’t be guilty of judging other people’s obstacles from our perspective -- everyone’s is very different -- and we haven’t walked in their shoes. . . . and seen their obstacle from their eyeballs.
#5 -- We need to remember that no hurdle we face is too big for God. “My God is so big! So strong and so mighty! There’s nothing my God cannot do!” (from a children’s song that happens to be full of great truths!) Whatever we face in life, it’s not too big for God, even if it is too big for us. Sometimes He lets us encounter big hurdles, so we remember to lean on Him. We may do a crashing stumble run that ends up with us head over heels with that hurdle -- tangled up and knees scraped -- caught up in something we never thought we’d be caught up in. But God’s grace is bigger than that too. Even if we face plant with a busted lip and end up with bloody knees, it’s okay. Our savior endured a lot more than that to provide us the grace that will bandage those scraped knees -- and the mercy that will allow that busted lip to heal.
Whatever challenges and hurdles come at us in 2018, I pray that we’ll remember the toddler and the curb. My prayer is that we’ll realize God is watching over us with grace and mercy, that we will grow in spiritual maturity to handle the hurdles that come, that we’ll view each other with the grace with which Jesus views us, that we will reach out for those helping hands that are available and that we will repent and turn back to him, accepting His grace and mercy if we face-plant trying to jump the hurdles -- or the curbs...