Happy to Try

nicholaseditedAt that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mathew 18:1-4 NIV

Our 8-month-old nephew, Nicholas, was just learning to stand. He happily balanced on wobbly legs, then just as happily fell onto his diapered bottom. He moved on to the next attempt—or to the toy that caught his eye as he fell—totally unfazed by his success or failure.

I, on the other hand, can let the smallest failure ruin my day. I tried a new pilates class recently and left in tears because I couldn’t do all the exercises. My discouragement as I compared my efforts to those of others in the class (who were more experienced or simply more fit) put a damper on an otherwise great day.

Nicholas and I both “failed,” in a sense, but Nicholas was unfazed while I was distraught.

So what does an 8-month old have that I’m missing?

Or maybe the question is, what do I have that I need to get rid of, so I can be more like Nicholas?

Nicholas experienced the joy of something new. I traded the joy of new experiences for damaged pride.

My pride led to embarrassment from unmet expectations. My pride experienced fear of being judged for what I couldn’t do. In hanging on to pride, I lost the chance for joy. I traded the joy of learning a new thing for a pride that worried what others might think.

When Jesus told the disciples that they needed to become like little children, he was talking about becoming like the lowliest of people—humbly receiving God’s gift of salvation as those who are helpless to earn it on their own. As those without pride. And as those full of joy for the gift of life.

I wonder how often I have missed the joy that God calls me to because of my pride. I wonder how many times I have missed a chance to grow as a Christian because I was afraid that in trying something new I might look like a fool.

Perhaps if we can remember, when we try something new, that God looks on our efforts as we look at Nicholas—cheering him on with each attempt to stand, heedless of his fall—then we too can be like little children, great in the kingdom of God, and full of joy as we humbly embrace each new experience.

By Sandy MacMillan, Take Heart Director

 

 

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On a High Horse

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37

I’ve spent a great deal of time lately on my high horse. Maybe you’ve ridden one too—you know, the seat where we sit proudly in judgment of those around us.

I’ve judged folks for their arrogance; I’ve judged others for their ignorance. Sometimes my judgment has come from a place of hurt, when someone let me down or failed to respond with love. And in each case, there was wrong done, so I felt justified.

Until I caught a glimpse of my own reflection.

There I saw my own arrogance. And ignorance. I thought of the recent times I had let others down and failed to act in love.

And I remembered today’s verse. I remembered the forgiveness I had taken for granted, yet had failed to grant.

concrete-crossI remembered that only One Person ever earned the right to sit on a high horse. Yet instead of being lifted high on a horse, He allowed Himself to be lifted high on a cross.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us, we pray, for the times we sit in judgment of those around us. As we remember your sacrifice for us this Holy week, as we celebrate the forgiveness you earned for us, may Your Spirit enable us to freely offer forgiveness to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

By Sandy MacMillan, Take Heart Director

 

Photo courtesy of Magnus Rosendahl/Public-domain-photos.com

 

If Jesus Needed a Nap…

At last weekend’s Take Heart conference, God showed up in amazing ways. It was an incredible privilege to be a part of what God did. We shared a much-needed laugh with speaker Liz Curtis Higgs, and we shared our burdens through prayer. Then we received encouragement and practical tools for growth from a talented group of breakout speakers.

My favorite part was the ministries expo, where I learned, among other things, about local organizations that

• help women through grief,

• counsel women with eating disorders,

• connect women to resources for special needs children or aging loved ones,

and even

• rescue women from sex trafficking.

It was exciting to learn ways that the Body of Christ is shining Light in a dark world.

It was a wonderful weekend. But the next few days….I was tired. Utterly couldn’t-keep-my-eyes-open exhausted. Which made me crazy. There were things to do—like the laundry that piled up on the busy pre-conference days. Like getting groceries so I could remind my husband what a home cooked meal looks like.

I felt like I needed to keep going, but I just couldn’t move!

As I tried to marshal energy that just isn’t there, I remembered a familiar story from Luke 8 (and also Matthew 8 and Mark 4)—the account of Jesus calming the storm.

You may remember how Jesus spoke a few words and calmed a raging storm for his freaked-out disciples. But what spoke to my heart in my weariness were the words just before the storm-calming part:

As they sailed, [Jesus] fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him… (Luke 8:23-24a)

In other words, Jesus was so tired that he fell asleep and slept right through a huge storm. Tossed and drenched, he stayed asleep until his disciples shook him firmly.

After faithfully serving His Father by teaching and healing, Jesus—the Son of God— couldn’t keep His eyes open.

Sounds a little bit like my post-conference exhaustion. Not that anything I do can be compared to Jesus’s earthly ministry. But it made me wonder.

If Jesus needed a nap, perhaps it’s ok for me—for us—to rest too.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” But perhaps, when we’re done working, we need to follow Jesus’ example and rest.

photo courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

photo courtesy of graur codrin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Perhaps we need to give ourselves into the care of our great Shepherd, the one David wrote about, saying “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3a)

So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go take a nap!

Sandy MacMillan

Director, Take Heart