Her safety zone was our couch. Over and over again she would grab onto it, pull herself up and maneuver around to the other end. In the beginning, she was content to just travel the length of the couch. Back and forth, back and forth. We would lay temptations a few feet out from her reach hoping she would muster up the courage to let go and step out into the unknown of walking without guidance. A few times she did, only to quickly fall right back down. Until eventually, she did it! She stepped out - wobbled a bit - steadied herself and walked forward without falling.
You would have thought she just scored a winning goal in a World Cup match by the way we cheered for her! It was just a few, tiny steps, but in the eyes of her parents, it was her greatest achievement yet!
How do we cheer so loudly for our children when they take a risk and wobble their way through a few steps, but as adults we down play the small steps we take as we follow God into new places and spaces? What happens that we forget to remember, all new steps and new beginnings come with wobbly, unaccustomed legs? And the beginning isn't supposed to be as smooth as the ending.
I just refuse to believe our perfect Father sits far off with His arms crossed as we hesitantly step away from the comfort of our couches and embrace His new invitations. I think He celebrates. I think He cheers. I think He stands up and awaits our growth. I think He knows how hard it is to let go of what was or what we thought would be and embrace what actually is.
He is always working, always moving, always shifting and just like the seasons He is always inviting us into new layers of growth, pruning and fruitfulness. Because new is a process, birthing takes time and stepping out (even if it's just a baby step) signifies our hearts are ready.
"He puts a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him."
"Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way through the wilderness and rivers through the desert."
Our Father is the creator of new beginnings and we have been hard wired to recognize them. Our brains stimulate at the thought of a fresh start. It's a part of the learning process called life. Why do you think babies are even tempted to attempt their first step? Because they were created for the purpose of stepping into the new. Over and over again, He calls us forward into what we don't know, but get to discover.
The only way we stop learning is if we stop walking.
The muscle mass of following is developed in the actual following. Most of my life I have said to God, "give me the strength and I will take the step." Most of my life God has responded to me, "you take the step and I will give you the strength." It is not possible to think our way into new muscle development. If it were, I would not spend an hour, five days a week at the gym! New growth requires stepping. Wanting and doing are two separate things and that's why many of us stand idly by wishing we were somewhere we're not.
Like a good Father, He puts some things just out of my reach. Not as a tease, but as an opportunity. An opportunity to dig deep and discover who I really am. An opportunity to let go and discover more of who He is. Holding onto the couch, I am constantly aware of my limitations. There's a whole world to explore and here I am strapped to what I can guarantee.
We actually weren't created for caution and comfort. I love the way Kris Vallaton always says it, "If we were meant to be comfortable, why did God give us the Comforter." In this place of stepping out, I am more me than I have ever been simply because I need more of Him than I've ever had.
It's been another year of new beginnings for us as a family and we are learning to walk steady in the midst of them. The temptation is to compare these baby steps to past seasons where our well accustomed feet ran easily with life and ministry at a rapid pace. It's like learning to run (or even walk) at higher altitudes. Our lungs are not fully accustomed yet. Things are slower, they take more time and a lot of our growth is underground or just beginning to peak it's way through the surface. But, it's there and it's good. Better than ever before. And we will keep walking, until we build up the endurance to run in this place as well. And then, like a good Father, He will invite us into an even deeper season and we will repeat the transition all over again. Each time coming to know Him more and experiencing more of what He has for us. And each time resurfacing better connected with Him than we were before.
What season are you in? What pace does He have you at? Is there a couch you need to let go of? He is celebrating your steps forward today. Standing to His feet with excitement and anticipation of the new world you are about to discover. I not yet witnessed a two year old who has learned to walk and yet chose to revert back to crawling. You won't want to go back either. Not when He is finished showing you what He has for you her in this new place.