Some parents will judge me for this. I would say don't, but I have been in this parenting arena for long enough to know that there will be judgement. And I am ok with that, mostly. Something about exposure toughens the skin a bit, so I am have become more adept at letting it roll off my back.
The other day I was enjoying my time nursing Silas. When he was done, he happily got off my lap and toddled over to the bookshelf which sits katty corner in his room. As such, there is a corner between the shelf, the wall and his changing table/dresser. He was intent on reaching a particular toy on the shelf, and he succeeded in grabbing it with his chubby little hand. However, in so doing, he got himself stuck. Stuck between the shelf, wall and dresser. There was only one way out, he had to back up, as in, walk backwards. Oh, and his old fashioned telephone on wheels was blocking his path, so he would not only have to walk backwards, he would have to maneuver around the telephone. Did I mention he only learned to walk forwards a month ago? So I am sitting here watching all of this play out. I could see in his eyes the moment he decided he wanted out of the corner...and then I recognized the look on his face when he realized it wasn't going to be an easy escape. And then I watched as he paused and contemplated what to do. And as he contemplated, so did I. You see, I was within arms reach. I easily could have plucked him up and out of that corner and on his merry little way. But instead, I sat there mesmerized by the process, contemplating my own actions. Instead of plucking him out, I decided to see what he would do. There was minimal risk of injury, however, all babies fall and with falls there is always some risk. But no huge hazard. So I let him figure it out. First he hung onto the shelf and pushed his foot backwards. Upon feeling the telephone, he knew it wasn't going to be easy. So then he gripped tighter and pushed harder backwards with his one foot, knocking the telephone toy almost out of his way. From there he grabbed whatever else was in his reach and slowly inched his way out of the corner. Once free, he triumphantly glanced at me, scrunched up his nose in a "I did it" sort of way and happily toddled on his way.
As I sat there, I couldn't help but notice the correlation between my own "corners" and my own Parent. It seems so often we get angry at God for not getting us out, or moving, or healing, or stopping, or whatever. I let Silas be independent. And in so doing, I risked him falling. But he learned a skill he will need for the rest of his life. And I was right there. If he had faltered, I would have reached out to catch him before he hit the ground. He thought he was alone. But I was right there. I just didn't rescue him. Not in the way he initially wanted to be rescued. Because I knew that he needed to learn, and I believed in him enough that I gave him the gift of freedom...to learn. How many times have I cried out to God to rescue me? Sometimes He has...as in, He plucks me out and sets me on higher ground. But so many more times, I didn't sense him in the immediate sense. He did not pluck me out. I cried out wondering why He had left me. Why I had to face this alone? And all the while He was right there. I had backed myself into the proverbial corner, and He was right there to catch me if I fell, but He knew I needed to learn how to back up more than I needed immediate rescue.
Christianity is not for the weak. It is not for the people who need a crutch. At least not the Christ following I witness and experience. Trust is difficult...one of the most difficult emotions and actions required of a human. Doubt is easy. It comes naturally. We doubt God, we doubt ourselves, we doubt other people...its what humans do. But trust...trust is a thought, its a feeling, its an action. When my back is to a corner doubt rushes in on a dime...like a flood it comes through every crack in my armor. But trust is what fortifies the structure. The two war against one another like opposite and opposing forces. Doubt always leads to isolation. Isolation from others (ruins relationships) and from God. We might feel safe, but we are all alone. Trust invites risk...the risk of pain...but when we choose to trust we open up to relationship. To find reward, we must always risk.
What I have learned is that in the process of rescuing us, God is always there. It may not look as we imagined it would, but He is there. Even if we fall...His is the hand that catches us...the only thing between us and the bottom. You may have fallen a long, long way...but He did not let you go. He knows the value of the lesson you and I need to learn. He is confident in our abilities (the people He has made us to be) to figure this out. He isn't snatching us out, because while that might make Him look good, He is more interested in refining us, teaching us, growing us, which invites us into an opportunity to experience deeper relationship with Him. Nothing about this life is easy, but no one ever said it would be. Love demands trust, trust invites deeper relationship. Immediate rescue is not the only way to build trust. Sometimes instead of plucking us out, Love is there to catch you.