While having lunch with friends this week, the waitress spilled a large glass of ice water on the floor beside me. It made a loud noise, so she was the center of attention for an awkward moment. I told her it was okay, and she smiled; but I know she wanted to crawl into a corner. That’s what awkward moments do to all of us. I am painfully familiar with awkward moments and have had far more than my share, so I learned at an early age to make the best of them. I quickly made fun of myself before anyone else had the chance or let Pollyanna make lemonade from the lemons life threw at me.
The water from that overturned glass immediately disappeared into the carpet, and the ice quickly melted away. No harm was done, and life went back to normal. As I looked at the wet carpet, I couldn’t help but wish the same were true in matters of the heart. Once it’s broken or poured out, life can never be the same. That’s a good thing, but it’s a painful mess for a while. Each bump, break, spill, or near miss strengthens my heart and brings me nearer to God. He knows brokenness and emptiness enable my heart to climb or come down from the summits on this journey. It’s human nature to want to quit when my heart is hurting, but I’m learning that giving up doesn’t have to follow giving out. Christ will help when the burden is more than I can bear.
Pride tells me to quit, but love bids me to reach out for help. It’s good to do what I can on my own, but it’s better to let love lead me to a place of accepting help when I need it. If I don’t, I’ll give up each time I give out. No one would attempt Mount Everest without an experienced sherpa, but many walk through life afraid to ask for help. Walking in God’s kingdom is more challenging and takes far longer than a trip up the mountain, so He gives a beautiful Guide to help us along the way.
Reaching the summit isn’t for the faint of heart because as soon as the view takes my breath away, I’m left with the prospect of going back down. That’s a more daunting and more dangerous journey than the climb upward. God reminded me in His lessons this week that ups and downs are part of the journey, and I must get used to them if I want to live and love as He desires. The beauty of being at the bottom is knowing there is no where to go but up. My favorite Psalm of Ascent is 121. I cannot look to the mountain when I am standing on top of it. I am invincible on the summit, and I forget I need help. That is the most dangerous place for my heart to be. Whether I come down carefully or in one fell swoop like the water in that glass, I am in the perfect position for remembering from whence comes my help.
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.”
God guards my going out and coming in and my going up and coming down. The journey will always have its ups and downs, but I take sweet comfort in knowing that Christ left a great Guide to help in both.
Looking at the summit. (Beijing 2008 Olympic Games)