Tuesday, March 10, 2009

“Boy, Did I Need You Today!”

The feet of a tightrope walker.

Image via Wikipedia

How often does our thanksgiving ring hollow to our Lord?

Imagine this with me.

A great circus performer thrills audiences night after night under the Big Top. His specialty is the high wire, and he performs it with ease. For him, walking on that slender strand is no harder than walking the floor at home. His skills and his balance are so great that he doesn’t even bother working with a net, even though he works at heights that would mean instant death if he were to fall.

Then one day he accepts a challenge…to walk the wire at twice the height, and do it outside. The date is set, and the conditions of the challenge are clear. No matter what the weather, he will perform. Failure to do so would be forfeiture and disgrace.

The day of the challenge does not dawn well. High winds buffet him on the platform and make the wire dance before his eyes. Rain slaps his face, blurs his vision, and slickens the already treacherous strand that he must traverse.

He is terrified, but he feels he has no choice. The show must go on. His honor must be upheld.

So he steps out.

What follows can only be described as a nightmarish ordeal. He wobbles, and bobbles, slips and catches himself. Every nerve is strained to the limit as he calls upon years of experience and finely-honed reflexes to keep him on the tightrope. While heights do not normally bother him, today he is all too terrifyingly aware that only one thin wire stands between him and a fall of hundreds of feet. He glues his eyes to that wire, his literal lifeline, clinging to it with everything he has.

Somehow, miraculously, he makes it across. And as his feet find the ending platform, and his hands grasp the pole, he sinks to his knees in gratitude.

Then, bending down, he kisses the wire and says to it, “Thank you! I’ve never needed you before like I needed you today.”

Is that true?

How well would he have done without the wire on all of his earlier performances? Could he have gone safely from one platform to the other without it? If it had failed him in mid-performance under the Big-Top, would any of his skills have been able to keep him alive? Would falling hundreds of feet have left him any more or less dead depending on the weather?

If the wire had feelings, it would probably think that the acrobat was being condescending. The thanks would ring hollow somehow. Who do you think you are? Don’t you know you’ve needed me every moment?

How often does our thanksgiving condescend to our Lord?

Do we flatter ourselves that we do just fine on our own most of the time, when the winds are calm and the skies are clear? On the good days, do we place all our faith in our skills, our reflexes, and our balance, as if they alone could hold us suspended over the abyss?

Of course we are right to be thankful on those days when His support is so obviously needed. But is there ever a moment when we do not depend utterly on Him?

Recently I faced a day with some unusual emotional difficulties. The next day was much easier, and I let myself rebound into what felt like a well-earned day of rest. Sadly, for me, “rest” meant wasted time and dereliction of duties from which I’d already “rested” far too often. It meant drowning out the Spirit with the drone of the television (I don’t often watch TV anymore, so it felt justified). It meant coasting on every level, preferring not to engage in anything more serious than entertainment. Then came another conversation, full of forebodings of the economic uncertainties facing our nation right now, and suddenly I felt like I needed the Lord again. And that’s when He reminded me of one of my current memory verses.

“When I fed them, they were satisfied. When they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me.” (Hos. 13:6, NIV)

Comfortable days are so dangerous! And yet how much of my time is spent trying to make myself comfortable?

Maybe I need to spend more time…much more time…out where the winds buffet and the rain falls. I don’t mean looking for trouble, I mean taking up my cross despite the beckoning of my cozy chair. You see, I’m too blind, too proud, too foolish to recognize my need of Him when I’m comfy.

I may remember to read His Word. I may remember to pay lip service to His worth. But if I have forgotten that I need Him every moment, then to that extent I have forgotten the wire under my feet. I have mistaken my skills for my Savior, even though my skills mean nothing without Him. I have become proud.

“The desire of our soul is…for the remembrance of You (Isa. 26:8).

How deeply do I desire to remember Him? Deeply enough to step out in faith when it’s painfully obvious that my own resources aren’t enough to hold me up?

Deeply enough to refuse the comforts that numb me to my need?

Deeply enough to enable me to remember Him even when I am comfortable?

No, sadly, not yet. But it’s where I want to be. And thank God, it’s where I know He plans to take me.

Where are you on this journey? How have you learned to remember Him more? I look forward to your comments.

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3 comments:

LauraLee Shaw said...

This is true of me as well, unfortunately. I'm way familiar with this analogy, though I'd never thought of it myself. (though I'm in the process of writing something about jugglers, it's just taking me awhile...sigh)

You wrote this perfectly so, bringing the message to grasp. I'm coming off of a VERY hard month, so it is no accident that the Lord led me here. God always uses your unique, insightful perspective to grab me in the secret corners of my heart.

karin said...

Since my retirement in Sept. I've been giving myself permission to 'rest'. After 23 years with the same organization - in the 3 years overextended to the nth degree by being responsible for 2 management positions - I have a sense of being 'entitled' to having a rest. I'm now back in a different position just 1/2 time, but I am carefully guarding demands on my time. I know that the Lord has given me wisdom to take this Sabbatical. There are days though, when I chide myself for my 'dereliction of duties', wasting time, and getting lazy. I NEED HIM every moment of every day - when I was walking the high wires and when I'm sitting on the sidelines waiting for further directions.

I'm not sure I made myself clear here. I was just thinking that maybe you shouldn't be so hard on yourself when you take some time in your easy chair. I'm learning to thank Him also for this time.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

As of late, I have sensed a greater need in my every moment. I try hard and stay focused on God, despite my surroundings and the "going ons" around me. It's a hard discipline, but one that is growing in me daily.

By his breath, I am sustained. Remove that, and I am nothing. I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord!

Great post, Betsy.

peace~elaine

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