Thursday, July 18, 2013
Two Are Better than One
because they have a good return
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10
Solomon, in all his profound wisdom, wrote a book from a viewpoint of life without the cover of God’s umbrella, but in the midst of this rather depressing treatise there are some truths that will change you life. They are simple truths. Not complicated theology. Not intricate doctrine. They are the bread—simple manna.
Both Elijah and Judah are in the stage of learning to walk. Tentatively they take steps and reach from one piece of furniture to the wall and back again. Sometimes, when they forget themselves, they let go of their safety ropes and take steps. Sometimes they take five or ten steps before they lose their balance or realize that they are walking unaided.
I watch them with delight. Utter delight. Their little arms stretch forth, their little legs move out and their little eyebrows draw together in concentration. This is work for them. This walking. And I (and their parents, grandparents and aunts) cheer and shout and clap for them regardless if it’s three steps or twelve.
But we don’t remember how hard it was to learn to walk. We don’t remember when our bodies did not have muscle recall to be mobile and ambulatory. We don’t remember ten steps being an accomplishment.
Walking is such an integral part of our lives that it has been relegated to a place close to breathing. To involuntary muscle activity—like our hearts beating and our lungs inhaling and exhaling.
In Scripture our way of life is often referred to as walking.
We are to walk in the Spirit.
We are to walk with God.
We are to walk in truth.
We are to walk in righteousness.
We are to walk in God’s light.
We are to walk humbly with God.
We are commanded to walk in love.
And like Elijah and Judah we learn to do this walking in stages. We are like these two little boys—taking tentative, cautious steps. In the beginning we hold out our arms to balance. We grasp the pants legs and hands of people around us. We reach out to another place of security in order to move forward.
But what we forget, what we often fail to remember, is that we do not learn to walk alone. We need each other. We need the strength of another’s arm or the steadying of another’s hand. We need someone to help us up when we fall. When we stumble we need someone to reassure us that it is worth getting up and trying again.
Many of us try to walk this Christian life out alone. God, help us. We have embraced our independence in such a way that it often excludes the help of others. We dismiss needing help as weakness. We dismiss dependence as frailty. But sometimes strength is realizing that we need to take someone’s hand. We need to allow someone to put their arms under our arms and lift us up when we fall.
One of the reasons I love to watch Elijah and Judah is that when they stumble or fall there is no shame. No embarrassment. No expressions of failure. There’s no pride. No hubris in their little hearts. Sometimes there are tears, but they are short-lived. These little boys look around, rotate and attempt to get back up on their feet. Or they take off crawling until they get their courage to stand again.
But they will take the risk again. Over and over. I’ve watched them.
But when I fall down instead of immediately rotating my backside to get up again I am far too concerned with who has seen me fall. If I stumble I am so embarrassed that I miss the cadence of my steps for a while. I realize that I am often too concerned with who has witnessed my stumbling.
I don’t want anyone to see me stumble or fall. And that is just too bad. It’s going to happen. It has happened. More than once. And my pride, the ugly hubris of my soul, is hurt every time. Every time. Pride holds and nurses bruises for a long time. And I am guilty.
But my grandsons are teaching me that we are ALL going to stumble and fall. Elijah and Judah already understand that toys on the floor, uneven driveways, rocks on the road, and socks on the stairs are inevitable parts of life.
We need to learn from these little boys.
Sometimes we just need a hand to steady us until we can plant our feet again. Sometimes we just need someone to look at us when we fall and say, shake it off; you’re ok. Sometimes we need someone to pick us up and pat and rub our backs and wipe away our tears. Sometimes we need someone who will set us back on the ground and put their fingers in ours and lead us.
Walking is part of our lives in Christ. Our Father has called us to walk. Walk out our lives.
But He did not call us to do it alone.
Someone will offer us their hand today. Someone will stop and help us to stand back up. Oh, that we don’t refuse that help and aid because we are embarrassed, full of shame or too prideful.
Maybe we won’t be the ones who stumble and fall today. The stumbling and falling may happen to someone else today.
If this is the case then let us be the first ones to hold out a hand and help them whether it be to say, shake it off; you’re ok! or to rub their backs and wipe away their tears. Let us stop our first impulse to immediately tell them why they stumbled. What good does that do if they are embarrassed? Let us stop trying to analyze why they fell. What good does that do if they are hurt? Offer a hand or an arm instead. When they are steady on their feet again, then we can show them the rug in their way or their shoelace that were left untied.
Today remember the Elijah and Judah lesson: in this walking way of life two are better than one.
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