Friday, November 08, 2013

Lessons at the Playground

Friday is my day off and the day our family practices Sabbath.

There are lots of legalistic arguments about whether Sabbath is something Christians must do. Those arguments aren't important to me and they miss the point much of the time.

We don't practice Sabbath because we believe we have to. We practice Sabbath because we have found there's a rhythm in the world that contributes to human flourishing. That pattern is 6 and 1...6 and 1...6 and 1. Sabbath reminds us that the world goes on fine without our effort. Sabbath reminds us that God does just fine without our addictive patterns of worry and work. Sabbath calls out the insanity of our other 6 days.

Today, we went to a park. We kicked the soccer ball, threw the football, and played on a playground. It was a blast!

But the coolest part happened while we were at the playground. Maddox is our more reluctant child. He prefers to stay safe and our insurance company appreciates that trait in him. Addison will jump off anything and laugh when she hits the ground.

After a couple of times up the stairs and down the slide, Maddox saw a different way to climb up to the slide. He saw a climbing apparatus. As he stared at it, I could see the wheels turning in his mind.

Should I try it? Could I climb it? Is it safer to just go up the more traditional route?

And as he stared at it I asked him, "Do you want to try it?" And sheepishly he said, "I think so."

So, we moved toward the red ladder and Maddox methodically worked his way up the ladder, careful to ensure his feet didn't slip. I stood and watched as a proud father knowing that this moment would set his self-confidence forward or backward depending on the outcome of this one act.

As he neared the top, his legs began to shake and he looked back to see if I was there to catch him. I rooted him on saying, "Maddox, you can do it." Slowly he climbed up to the top bar, but he had to make a giant step of faith in order to make it across to the playground's terra firma.

I moved to get a closer look and I was there to catch him if something went wrong, but he had to do this one on his own. Would he make the step?

Eventually, with his legs shaking the entire structure, he stepped over the abyss and onto the platform.  And he yelled "Yes!" with a joy I've only heard him make audible on a few occasions. He did it!

And I was beaming from ear to ear.

There are moments as a dad when your relationship with God makes more sense. This was one of those moments. I could have helped Maddox across. I would have caught him if he had taken one poor step. He was never in danger. But I knew that his confidence would only grow if he took that step.

And it made me realize why God seems so absent sometimes. When Maddox was on the top bar, I'm sure he wouldn't have minded me helping him across. When I'm in a pinch, I'm hopeful God will answer my prayer and fix everything in an instant. But I believe there are times when God doesn't make things easy on us because he knows we need to learn to do some things on our own.

And when we take that step, I'm certain that God smiles from ear to ear as well.

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