Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Victory Stones

I wonder, when was the last time you did something hard?  You know, reached out of your comfort zone.  I recently read of Zerubbabel and the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem.  They are given permission by King Cyrus of Persia to rebuild the Temple.  But when they get there, find the locals giving them much strife.  The Scriptures tell us they were afraid, but none the less, continue to work.   

Living out of my comfort zone is the story of my life.  Little things, like going to the hairdresser, going to the bank, using the phone, talking to the new person--all a personal battle for me . . . still.  Some assume I've gotten over being shy.  I haven't.  It remains.  I've asked God to simply take it away.  Make me a bubbly person. Surely I could be a better youth pastor's wife that way.  But I'm not.  I'm still fairly awkward in most situations.  It's my "thorn in the flesh".  God knows how easily pride creeps in and it is one of the ways He keeps me dependent on Him, even for the dailies.

My two youngest girls have been taking ski lessons for a month as part of their P.E. class with our school.  They wanted to display their new skills to mom.  Could mom go downhill skiing with them?  Panic.  No, mom, doesn't do downhill skiing.  I have not had good experiences with it in the past and its been 15 years since I've attempted such a feat.

But for love of my daughters I said yes.  It is way out of my comfort zone.  For starters it is hard to fit boots on me because of my family renowned monster calves.  But we found boots that worked.  First victory.  Then I proceeded to conquer getting on and off the chair lift.  No problem.  It was coming back to me.  Bunny slope.  Fun.  I can do this.  Greens.  Then the top of the mountain.  But as I was riding the chair lift, fear began to build.

My husband asked me to trust him.  He said he would not take me anywhere on the mountain that he knew I could not handle.  It reminds me of God.  How I need to trust Him with my life.  He will not take me down any path that I cannot handle with Him by my side.

But the hills seemed bigger.  I was terrified.  I didn't like this, and it wasn't fun anymore.  I wanted to cry.  Did I have to go down it?  What's the worst thing that could happen.  I could lose control and slide halfway down the mountain. (That's what happened 15 years ago.)   It was humiliating.  My 11 and 9 year old had already gone down with ease and were waiting for me at the bottom.  "You can do it mom!"  Encouragement is so important in life.  How we need others beside us, cheering us on, in order to conquer mountains.

I stood there, trying to muster up the courage, while snowboarders sailed by at top speed.  A song popped in my head from college days, "Give me this mountain, give me this mountain..."    Just attack it.  Go for it.  You can do this.  Help me, Jesus.

Despite fear and trembling, I make it down.  Next hill.  I stop at the crest and evaluate.  Fear returns.  And so it continues, all the way down the mountain. So people think this is fun?  Really?  I just wanted my bunny slope back, my greens.  There I was happy.  Or would I be?  I think if I had stayed there I would be disappointed in myself, and bored.  Plus, I would miss the delight of my daughters showing off for their mom.  Roles were flip flopped.  So now they were the teacher, I the student.  Humbling.

But on one hill while I was about to do that crucial turn the other way, an emure popped up from the bank, you know, one of those white weasel things with the black tip on its tail.  It was beautiful, and at such an angle that it was silhouetted against the blue sky with flakes of sparkly white snow suspended in air from its leap.  It was only for a second, then gone . . . but I saw it!  It distracted me just long enough, that I didn't even think about the hill I was going down, but only about the pocket of beauty I just saw.  And isn't God like that?  When we least expect it, he sends us a snapshot of beauty, for no other reason than because he wants to.  It's his pleasure to do so.

I do not plan to hit the slopes again in the near future.  However, the imagery to my spiritual life is vivid.  To never take a risk, to only go as far as I'm comfortable with, will never get me dependent on God.  It will never promote growth.  The giants that loom before me will never be overcome unless I run to them, attack them, and move forward even with fear and trembling.  If I wait until I have no fear, then I will never do anything.

Each giant conquered, however, is a stone of remembrance.  A stone drawn from the river, set up as a monument to God's faithfulness and sufficiency      . . . like the stones Israel stacked up from the Jordan as they were about to conquer Jericho. . . like David's five stones used to slay even bigger giants.  These stones, drawn from the Spirit's flow of enabling, seem like only pebbles here, but in heaven?  They are gold.  And one day I will have rest from these labors.  But in the meantime, I continue to do that which is hard    . . . on purpose, because I don't want to be stagnant.  I don't want to enter heaven empty of victory stones.

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