The Greatest Commandment

Love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Training Wheels

Wow. It’s been over a year since I have blogged online. Oh, I’ve still been writing… but it’s been in my little brown journal… just for me! I’ve been feeling the urge to get back on here for a while now, so here goes…

So… a few weeks ago, on a beautiful day here in the mountains, we took our bikes and went to the park. Andy just got a new bike for Christmas so he was ecstatic that we were going! He had his cute little spider-man helmet (and horn!) on in the car before we even got there! The girls are pros on their bikes so they just took off. Andy, however, is new to a bike with training wheels. He had a tricycle before, but now he’s a big boy!

Off he went! Until… that is… he came to his first “hill.” I say hill, because that’s what he called it… but really… it was more like a tiny little bitty slope. Really. It’s not even noticeable when walking. But the Bubs noticed it and was scared. He got off of his bike and walked down it. At the “bottom,” he got back on and rode around the loop again… until he got to the slope… (are you seeing the pattern now?) Erin and I both tried to convince him he would be just fine if he rode down it, but he was too intimidated by the steep mountain in front of him. I even offered to hold the back of his bike while he went down, but it was just too much to consider. He looped around and around (walking down the hill, of course) for about 30 minutes. But THEN… one time… he got off of his bike… and started asking questions. “How fast is it?” “Will I fall?” “How do I know I won’t fall?” “How do I know it’s not fast??” “etc…………………………….”

Finally… he worked up the nerve. He. Rode. Down. The. Hill. !!!!!

Well… kinda. He freaked out about mid-way and did that “I’m losing control” thing that we do when we lose control on a bike… steered into the grass and promptly crashed. Once he realized he wasn’t dead… or even hurt… he got up, asked if he could try again, and walked his bike back up to give it another go. Mind you, I was standing at the “bottom” of the hill, in the curve, trying to coach him to a successful finish! (like a good mom, right??)

He was slow at first, but eventually he figured out his bike, his balance, the slope and the brakes. Over and over he went down that hill, getting faster with each attempt. I stood there at the bottom on pins and needles, waiting for the big crash and whatever stitches would go along with it. I kept wanting to run up and hold the back of his seat and control his speed, direction and wobbling! But… I didn’t. I taught him what he needed to know and I had to let him learn it himself.

That’s when it hit me.

As I stood in the corner of this gianormous alp (what? It was big to him!), I was overcome with a realization of this must be what it’s like for God to watch us flounder and flop before we figure out what it is He has taught us. It would be a lot easier if He just made it more elementary for us… but there is something about the pain that helps us learn in a more permanent manner. He knows everything about what our pain feels like, but He also knows that if He does what we want Him to do, which is make it all easier, we won’t grow into the magnificent and beautiful butterflies that He intends for us to become.

On a youth mission trip a couple of years ago, a young lady (Maggie) was helping us repair a rotten section of a family’s roof. The roof really needed to be completely demolished and rebuilt. It actually would have been a lot easier if we could have taken the whole thing off and started fresh… but that wasn’t the plan. The supervisor for the mission gave us instructions to salvage what we could, replace the rotten wood with new, and then re-shingle. We did a lot of “sistering boards,” which meant taking the strongest portion of the old wood and attaching new wood to it to provide strength. During the process, there was a lot of frustration and discouragement, as not only was our task incredibly hard, it also would thunderstorm about every 45 minutes. I think we spent more time tarping and re-tarping during the first 2 days than we did roof repair. Anyway… one afternoon late in the week, we were all staring at yet another section of completely rotten wood. All we could see was how bad things looked. Several times throughout this week a hand or foot went through the roof, which only gave us more work to do. As leaders, we were beginning to be completely overwhelmed, which is never good... On this particular afternoon, however, an interesting observation was made. There were butterflies everywhere. They had been there all week, but because it wasn’t raining, they were abundant in number. They were gorgeous Monarch butterflies and it was hard not to just sit and stare at them! Finally, one of the teenagers in the group asked the obvious question, “Why are there so many butterflies around here??” My co-leader was very quick to respond, “They feed off of rotten wood… and there is nothing but rotten wood all over this house.” Silence fell upon the group as we took in the meaning of what my co-leader had said. Maggie was the one who broke the silence.

“That’s the beauty of the rot.”

Now I doubt she even has a clue that her statement has stuck with me as long as it has. In fact, I’m not sure she even knows how profound it was in the first place! However… her simple sentence reminds me over and over again that there is something beautiful in EVERYTHING. We just need to notice it. When we are struggling to just get through the day, look for the good. Always find more blessings than bummers, because if you don’t, you can’t grow and change into what God has planned for you.

God tells us this, too.

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Psalm 119:71

Neither this man nor is parents sinned,” said Jesus, “But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” John 9:3

This is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, I am strong.” 2 Cor 9:10

Consider is pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may become mature and complete, not lacking in anything. James 1:2-4

Bless those who persecute you. Bless, and do not curse. Romans 12:14

He heals the broken hearted, binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

So do not fear, for I am with you: Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

God is always with us… no matter what… and can make the scary hills less scary… and can help us learn how to maneuver down them, no matter how steep or tough the challenge.

No matter what, though, look for the beauty in the rot.

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