“You’ve almost got it! Make your arms super straight and powerful. Then when your hands touch the ground, you can push off quickly. Don’t let your arms bend all the way when they touch the ground. Let’s try it again!” As my daughter put herself into position to try another back handspring, her tumbling coach reminded her of each step of the process. At this moment, my daughter had to decide whether she was going to throw the back handspring with her own methods or if she would trust her coach’s scaffolding and methods. Right before she tried it once more, her coach provided one more tip: “Remember how it feels when you have your body in the right position. That’s how you want it to feel every time you do a back handspring.”
I watched expectantly, hoping and praying my daughter would trust and take hold of all of the coaching tips, and she could experience what it feels like when all of the steps combined lead to a back handspring. All of the hours she spent practicing in the gym and at home could pay off. As my daughter took a deep breath to help gain her confidence, I saw all of the tips come together: she did it! Her back handspring was powerfully strong and the grin on her face was priceless. As I looked past my child’s joy to her coach’s elated reaction, I listened to her coach’s next words, “Yes! Remember how your body felt as you did each part correctly. Cement that into your brain, so you can keep doing it just like that!”
Through watching my daughter interact with her tumbling coach, the Holy Spirit gently showed what it might be like for us as He provides spiritual coaching to help us grow. We may not always understand His prompting and methods, but when we trust His ways over our own methods, we can see everything come together in a beautiful way. He doesn’t expect perfection the first, next, or 200th time that we try something new. Even though we fall into the pattern of wanting to do things our way and in our timing, He consistently and lovingly reminds us how we can live life His way. His plan always brings true meaning and purpose. As we make mistakes, when we come to Him with a humble and repentant heart, He forgives us each time and gives us direction and encouragement, so we can try again with more success. Through the power and gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit, He shows us the next right move to make in order to keep growing in our spiritual lives.
Although the Israelites’ false gods might appear to be easier for us to spot, because it’s hard to hide a golden statue, I have to be careful not to judge them too harshly. I struggle with my own idols of self-reliance and achievement. We want to do life our way and in our timing instead of leaning into His word and timing. Nehemiah taught the Israelites to understand that even though they keep turning away from God, He never turned away from them. He remained constant in His character. In Nehemiah 9:16-17, he writes:
|Verse 16-17a: They refused to listen, and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; so they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.||Verse 17b: But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and You did not forsake them.|
Despite the Israelites’ forgetfulness of God’s faithfulness and their choices to turn to their own thinking and stubbornness, God continued to be consistently forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and lovingly kind. Just like my daughter’s tumbling coach continues to patiently coach her through the same incremental steps, puts into place scaffolds of different tumbling mats, and provides lots of love and encouragement, God provides the same kind of incremental steps of spiritual growth opportunities for us, too. Instead of beating ourselves up mentally for the times when we fall short, let’s switch our perspective to valuing the process of growing to be more like Him.
- In what ways did we:
- trust Him even though His ways may not make sense yet?
- pursue our relationship with the Lord more than the answers to the problems we need for Him to solve?
No matter how challenging our circumstances may seem or how slowly God may seem to be moving in our situations, if we center ourselves on who He is and the ways we are learning more about His character through our circumstances, the more clearly we can find purpose in the process. Our trust in His faithfulness grows and our obedience follows. So in paraphrasing the words of my daughter’s tumbling coach, “Remember how obedience and walking in faith felt. Cement that into your brain. Let’s do it again!”