When I was a child, my dad would take my brother, Kevin, and me skating on our frozen lake in the winter. There was something freeing about gliding on the ice and breathing in the fresh, cold, winter air. Something that put a little pep in my step. Something that made me feel alive. Something...that made all eighty five layers of thermal underwear, stocking caps and gloves totally worth wearing.
Dad would always go first to carefully inspect the ice for firmness and safety; and would alert us to any danger zones, such as cracks or holes to avoid. But, one winter, curiosity got the best of my eight year old mind, and I stuck my boot through a small hole in the ice. This was certainly not one of my most intelligent moments. Foundation is everything...and well,...it's rather difficult to stand when you have one foot in a hole, and another on slippery terrain. No sooner than the tip of my boot skimmed the frigid water's surface, my other foot slipped and down I fell – one leg completely immersed in the freezing water, and thankfully, one still on the surface of the ice. Dad hurriedly scooped me up, carried me off the lake and back to the warmth and comfort of our home. Had I fallen in completely and/or my dad not reacted as quickly, the scene might have played out quite differently....
As I recall that experience, I am reminded of the endearing scene from Bambi in which Thumper tries to teach a wobbly Bambi to ice skate. Bambi struggles to stand on the ice, but his long, thin legs just don't offer the same support of Thumper's larger, padded feet. Foundation is everything and Thumper's firmer foundation allowed him to glide confidently and gracefully across the frozen pond.
I have found a lot of similarities between ice skating and walking with Christ. Both require proper safeguards and foundation for success:
1). Proper safety gear – Wearing the right boots and blades is essential for skaters to flourish on the ice. As Christians, we too need the right gear to thrive. Scripture says we need to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17).
2). Learn to walk before you skate – Skaters generally learn to walk on the ice prior to learning how to skate. Walking helps establish one's center of gravity, which in turn makes ankles less wobbly. When we walk with the Lord, He becomes our center of gravity and steadies our stride. Psalm 27:23 (NIV) says, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him.”
3.) Keep your eyes forward and let go - Skaters are taught to look in the direction they are skating. If they pay too much attention to their feet, they will fall. They are also instructed not to hold onto anything that may become a crutch. Hebrews 12:1-2 provides similar instruction in our walk with Christ – telling us to remove any weight that might slow us down and to press on toward our heavenly prize by keeping our eyes on Christ.
4). Have a spotter and use your edges – When learning to skate, one should have a confident skater alongside as a spotter. He/she will be able to help you up when you slip. Additionally, the edges of a skate blade provide power, control and speed, but one must keep them sharpened and know how to use them correctly in order to benefit from their potential. We are told in scripture that two are better than one – for if one falls down, the other can help him/her back up (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Additionally, Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) provides information on sharpening our faith, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
5). Bend Your Knees - When skaters bend their knees, their stability is greatly increased, and they do not fall backwards nearly as much. James 5:16 (NIV) states, “…the earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power….”
“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.
A man is powerful on his knees.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
Sometimes the roads in life get slickery, and as I’m learning to skate, I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father who scoops me up each time I fall.
Most gracious Lord, thank You for the foundation You provide. Foundation is everything Lord, and I am so grateful You steady our walk and lift us when we fall. Father, I pray we learn to let go of the things that hold us back and continually keep our eyes focused on You – pressing onward and moving ahead to the heavenly prize You have promised.