Joel is a good skater. Confident and eager, he knows the ropes, so I was just barely present in the semi-circle of parents as we listened to Coach Jesse’s instructions before the kids hit the ice. I could easily have missed his words:
“If you feel like you’re falling, bend your knees.”
How did he know that my list was too long, my day was too short, my minutes too few; that I was falling, and couldn’t find “up” anywhere? Well, obviously he was not talking to this middle-aged, hair-on-fire, home-schooling mum. He was giving the kids instructions for keeping their feet under them on the ice, but he had my attention.
Then, his lovely assistant took the floor to remind them of what NOT to do.
“Remember the little dance I showed you?”
Here, she shuffled her dainty skates in a mock pre-fall comic routine.
“If you feel like you’re falling, don’t try to catch yourself.”
Ahh . . . yes, I’ve never skated, but I know that dance. I’ve choreographed it, performed it, lived it, and been bone tired from the heaviness of its rhythms, because here’s the truth:
“The Dance” does not keep me from falling. I cannot catch myself. That is God’s job.
The skating coaches in their warm winter hats had spoken truth, and it was time to bend my knees.
The theology of God’s keeping is actually a lot like a dance, or a skating routine. In order for me to be “kept” by Him, I have to let Him do the keeping. He is not impressed by my heroic efforts or my long days or my endless lists. He does not ask me to single-handedly plan a VBS, to make detailed lesson plans for my children, or to write a weekly blog post. He wants me to bend my knees. He wants me to stop trying to earn the merit badge called “Competent” and to relax into the rhythm of his leading.
Didn’t I just teach a Sunday School class on Jude 24?
Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy . . .
Am I not privy on a daily basis to the reality of Psalm 116:8?
For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
Gloria Furman has written two excellent books, and although I reviewed the second one last summer (https://michelemorin.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/a-mothers-hands-are-always-full/), I have just recently read her first book (Thanks, Stephanie!). Glimpses of Grace (Crossway, 2013) reminds busy mums that keeping our feet is really all about grace. Much of the ministry of Jesus was centered around domestic things — seed, clothing, mud and spittle to name just a few. Frequently, we overlook this in the midst of our “mundane faithfulness,” and the routines of life quickly become oppressive. Written by a church planting missionary to Dubai with young children and a disabled husband, Glimpses of Grace is a shovel for digging out from under the rubble of self-condemnation; it is a rope to pull us out of our wallowing in boredom or despair; it is a kick in the seat of the pants for everyone who is waiting around for God to hand over the life and the circumstances we think we deserve.
Bend the knees, stop the dance, and let the grace of God keep you on your feet.