I recently took a walk to the park with my little guy. The “park” is another word for his school playground. When school isn’t in session, it’s a pretty big deal to walk UP the slides, hang upside down on the monkey bars, and engage in other such shenanigans otherwise off-limits during recess. Taking a walk isn’t all that significant, to be honest. But this day was special. Missouri doesn’t do 50 degrees in December. We are just all confused and off kilter. Do we wear a coat, a jacket, or a sweatshirt? The chances are quite good that it could snow 12 inches later in the day so we have to be prepared. Also significant was that I wore my pajamas to the park. Basically, the standard leggings and t-shirt combo. It’s Christmas break and I’m a teacher. We don’t put clothes on that aren’t leggings. And only on occasion do we get off of the couch. I’m just being honest here.
As we walked down the sidewalk, I secretly prayed that none of my neighbors saw me in my classy outfit. But as the park got closer and closer, I cared less and less. Micah rode his new Christmas RipStik Classic down the sidewalk several feet in front of me. Think skateboard where you have to move your hips and balance carefully on two wheels. Yeah. No thanks. He ran to the playground and began jumping, balancing, sliding, and maneuvering the monkey bars like a boss. This particular park trip wasn’t unlike the hundreds of others, really. Well, I didn’t think so, at least.
What appeal walking UP a slide, rather than sliding down it, has I will never know. But it’s a BIG deal. And let me tell you, if you can make it up the slide in one long hop, you’re pretty much king of the mountain. Or so I’m told. I will admit that my mind had wandered off a bit to the errands I needed to run, to the third cup of coffee I wished I had brought with me, and that it never dawned on me that I was going to be sporting my classy outfit all the way home, as well. In the background, I heard my little one asking a most pressing question regarding his ability to run and make it to the top of the slide in one single hop. “Do you think I can do it, mom”? As all good moms do, I was shaken from the thoughts of errands and coffee and haphazardly answered, “Yep. I’m sure you can.” Maybe I’m the only one, but I’ve agreed to hundreds of proposals and well-schemed ideas that my children conjured up for times like these. They catch you off guard. They are masters at it. I’m certain I’ve agreed to allowing them to use a mattress as a sled to fly down our stairs, to eat brown sugar straight from the bag, and to eat Dream Whip from a can for breakfast. All because I really wasn’t listening. How can I fly off the handle when the Dream Whip is being pass around at 7 am when I was the one who agreed to it? If you’re wondering, I’m fairly certain all of the above have happened at least once. When one has five children, we are glad to see that they lived another day. Dream Whip is dairy, am I right?
There have been many times that God has stopped me in my tracks to speak truth right into my weary and busy soul. This was definitely one of them. All day long, I could not shake his question, “Do you think I can do it, mom?” Somehow my accolades and confidence in him was just what he needed to conquer that slide business. He jumped and hopped no less than ten times that morning. Each time, one hop. Down the slide. Repeat. “See, I can do it.” It actually shook me to the core that his question was so genuine and he was actually anticipating my answer. What if I had said, “No, I think you’re going to need two hops to get to the top, not one.” I can tell you exactly what would have transpired after that. He would have stopped trying. He would have headed for the monkey bars, and put his quest to be king of the mountain behind him. His head would hang low and with good reason. His biggest cheerleader crushed his spirit. Didn’t believe in him. Questioned his abilities to be the best “slide hopper upper” on the block.
I’m not sure about you, but God and I seem to have a consistent, “I placed you here, for a reason, to do this particular thing” with my standard reply, “Uh, wrong person. But thanks for asking” exchange. As if he doesn’t know who He equips and why. As if He is going to leave me hanging there on the monkey bars all by myself. I can’t count the number of opportunities I’ve been handed to step out, and with reckless abandon, throw caution to the wind, and trust the Father who created me. So many slides I could’ve conquered. And when I could’ve cried out, “Do you think I can do it, Jesus?”, I missed the most beautiful words ever. “Yes, I know you can.” I like to play it safe. I go down slides in the proper way. I do nothing that scares me or makes me uncomfortable. Who does that? I follow all playground rules and you’ll never find me flying through the air, fully trusting that I will be caught safe and sound. And look at what I’ve been missing out on all of these years?
I’m learning, ever so slowly it seems, that Jesus followers don’t play it safe. It we are comfortable, content, and always going DOWN the slide, rather than taking a risk and asking, “Do you really think I can do this?”, then complacency has become our friend. This friend tells you to always take the easy road, because it’s much safer there. This friend encourages us to stay quiet when we really should be speaking truth. And eventually, we will always find that this friend was no friend after all. Our complacency friend blinded us to the truths that will actually set us free. Complacency discouraged us from trying the scary stuff. The “I can only do this with the faith that can move mountains” stuff. God is big, friends. He has plans that may scare us. That will certainly take us out of those safe and calm places and very well may throw us right in the middle of unknown territory. You may find yourself asking, “Do you think I can do this?” and He pays much better attention than I do. He won’t mistakenly choose you for a task that He won’t equip you to complete. He won’t pretend to be listening to our heart’s cries, while thinking about something more important. He will hear you. He will encourage you to boldly yell from the monkey bars that you CAN go where He is leading, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
I don’t know about you, but I have some slides to conquer. Because the true King of the mountain is good. He began something good in us, and He won’t leave us stranded. Buy some Dream Whip today. Eat it straight from the can and wear those classy leggings and t-shirt like the woman He created you to be. Hold your head high. He’s got exciting things ahead. Hold on and enjoy the ride.