Saturday, June 2, 2012

Forward Motion

I have learned that there are few things in life more frustrating than watching your child struggle – whether because something is wrong or trying to learn something new. The Little One in our house has started crawling. It’s not always a pretty crawl – sometimes it’s a combination of frog-kicks, face-planting, bear-crawls on her toes and sheer willpower. But she moves forward and gets where she wants. She’s been working on this skill for several weeks now and watching her struggle to reach something only to ultimately propel herself backwards and end up 3 feet away from her desired toy instead of the 6 inches she started was hard to watch. It was hard to hear the desperate grunts and silent pleas of help as she looked at me. She spent more time with her face buried in the carpet and rubbing her nose in it out of frustration than trying to move towards her prize.

As I watched this development happen before my eyes I started to think. What if we didn’t crawl before walked? Would we first learn to walk backwards? (Don’t judge, this was in one of my less philosophical thinking sessions!) But I quickly started thinking about my crawl/walk with Jesus. How many times in my life have I been crawling along through of a mire of self-induced mess and then pushing backwards to separate myself from Him when I was trying to move closer? How many times did I bury my face in the ground instead of keeping my eyes focused on the Prize? How many times did I just give up, get distracted and go onto something else only to realize later how vast the space was that I had created? The answer to every one of those questions is ‘too many.’  I can say that I never pushed away from Jesus on purpose, just like TLO didn’t push away from her toys on purpose, but it doesn’t matter if it was on purpose or not. Neither one of us ended up in the position we wanted to be in. How much noise did I make as I tried to propel myself forward again? How much did I cry out to the Lord as a plea of help?  Thankfully, the answer to those questions is ‘a lot!’ I think of David crying out to God in the Old Testament; how much noise he made in response to his pain and frustration. My own cries weren’t nearly as eloquent as David’s but we were both in the same boat – separated from God. Sometimes I had to close off my ears to TLO’s sounds of frustration and allow her to figure out how to propel herself forward, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t down in the floor in front of her encouraging her with each attempt “Come on baby! You’re doing great! Almost there! Way to go!” And I can just imagine my Abba Father down on His knees encouraging me as well as I realized how distant I was from Him and began my journey back to Him. His tender voice saying “Come on baby, I’m right here, I’ll never leave your side once you’re with me. You are so loved, come back into My arms, they’re waiting open wide!” I experienced frustration watching TLO struggle so much, I can only imagine the frustration, sadness and despair my God experiences when he watches His children struggle.
Thankfully, just as TLO finally figured out forward motion, so did I. The first time she crawled she got smothered in smooches on her cheeks and sounds of glee (and she got to play with the toy she so desperately wanted to…my painted toenails!) And when I figured out forward motion in my Christian life, I got held in the arms of Jesus where I can stay forever. What a prize!

Thank You Father, for kneeling on the ground waiting and encouraging me as I figured out how to crawl forward to You!  Thank You for teaching me, encouraging me, and always being there for me. Thank for the sweet child You have blessed me who opens my eyes to Your awesomeness! And thank You Lord for giving her the strength and abilities You have blessed her with. Please continue to allow her to grow (but not too fast!) and learn and to see Your awesomeness for herself. Amen.

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