12 July 2011

Meditation: "Looking At Your Horizon"

Peter answered Jesus, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him...
--Matthew 14:22-31

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation...
--Psalm 25:4-5

How can God direct our steps if we're not taking any?  --Sarah Leah Grafstein
Dear Friends,

It has been a loooong time since I have posted on my "Tenacious Grace" blog. I find that my muse for this ebbs and flows over time. Hopefully it is starting to flow again! If you have a topic you'd like me to pray over and ponder, and then write about, feel free to send it along!

This summer I've been teaching Miriam (my 6 1/2 year old) to ride a bike. It's slow going, mostly because she only has the patience to stick with each session for 10 minutes or so. Even so, it is exciting to see her gradually gain confidence as well as her sense of balance.

As I've been working with her, I find that there are three instructions that I have to remind her of every time. First, sit in the middle of the seat--don't lean to the side. Second, hold the handle bars tight and keep them straight. And third, look out ahead of your bike at where you want it to go and not down at your feet on the pedals.

It's that third instruction that has a deeper meaning to it that goes beyond riding a bike. It's so true that sometimes in my life I do a lot of "looking down at my feet." I get so caught up in the daily tasks of my personal life and ministry at the church that I don't always remember to look up and fix my gaze on the horizon of where I wish to go. It takes a certain amount of spiritual intentionality to "look up" and orient ourselves to our hoped for future so that we don't end up going in circles or crashing off to the side in the bramble bushes!

It's a little scary for Miriam to look up when she rides because she feels like she needs to keep track (with her eyes) of what her hands and feet are doing. But when she trusts that they are doing what they need to be doing (without her watching!) then she rides beautifully and confidently along the path. If she happens to look down, and falters and is about to tip over, I'm right there to grab the seat and steady her.

As a person of faith, I trust that I can look up and out and cast my gaze toward my hoped for future horizon. But even more, I trust that it is God who will direct my feet, who will lead me in the way that is true and righteous. When Peter steps out of the boat, with his eyes up and fixed on Jesus, he can walk on water! But when his fear creeps in, when he gets distracted by the wind and the waves, and he looks down (so to speak), then he starts to sink. But of course, Jesus is right there and immediately reaches out with a steadying hand.

In the midst of your daily life, I pray that God gives you the grace to boldly "look up" at where your heart most desires to go. And then I pray that you will trust God to lead you that direction.

If you happen to look down or lose your balance, know that God is there, ready to catch you in God's never-failing grace.

Blessings on you,


PS I must give credit to my friend and colleague John Tucker who spurred this reflection in devotional I heard him give in early June.

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