I heard Him three nights ago, though, in the most innocent moment, in the most unlikely action, in the loudest excitement. I was getting my two-year-old ready for bed. Help him brush his teeth. Change his diaper. Put on his socks, and t-shirt, and fuzzy warm pajamas. Hunt for his blanket. Make him a cup of water. Toss him on my bed for kisses and tickle time. You know…the usual.
He stood up on my bed after a few minutes of squealing and giggling, and said to me “I want to jump, Mommy.” And I dutifully stood up beside the bed, held out my arms, and said, “Okay, buddy, jump!” And, as he always does, he scooted as close to the edge of my king size bed as he could get, reached out his arms, and waited. I held my arms out a little further. He leaned out slightly, until his hands were nearly touching mine…and he allowed his body weight to fall forward. And as always, I caught him.
But he hadn’t jumped at all. He cautiously waited until he basically had contact with my open arms…and then he fell into them. We had been playing this ‘jumping’ game for as long as he could stand on my bed and say ‘jump’ and it had always gone exactly the same way. But three nights ago, for some reason that I can’t trace back to a source, I decided this was no longer acceptable.
“Nate!” I yelled down the hall. “Come here for a second. I need your help.”
And Nate (my almost 6-year-old) came careening down the hall.
“Will you show Gabe how to jump off the bed into my arms?” I asked.
You would have thought I had asked him to see how fast he could eat an entire bowl of ice cream. His face lit up, and he clamored onto my bed. Gabe stood back, as all good little brothers should, while Nate prepared to give a jumping lesson.
I backed up a few steps, held out my arms, and said “Okay, Nate, jump!”
That kid is one enthusiastic jumper, let me tell you. And he’s HEAVY! He was laughing AS he jumped, and I caught him, and I laughed too, because he nearly knocked me over. And Gabe laughed too, and jumped up and down on the bed, and said “MY TURN!”
“Just a second Gabe,” Nate responded as I set him down. “Let me show you one more time.” (pretty sure that wasn’t a nice brother moment, but an ‘I want another turn’ moment)
And so he did. And I was nearly bowled over a second time, and there was more laughter and squealing.
Then it was Gabe’s turn. Nate stayed to watch, and as Gabe inched to the edge of the bed, he said “Okay, Gabe, now you have to jump really far, and Mommy will catch you.”
Only slightly nervous, I backed up a couple steps and held out my arms. Gabe held out his arms…and then he realized his couldn’t touch mine. He paused. I waited.
Nate said “Jump high, Gabe! You can do it!”
I said “I promise I’ll catch you, buddy. BIG jump!”
It was only a second…and then he did exactly as his brother had done. He used his legs, and he actually JUMPED toward me. And I caught him, and we both laughed, and I praised him for being so brave, and he said he wanted to do it again, and Nate said he wanted another turn…and we had a late bedtime that night, because I was catching flying monkeys as they were hurling themselves off my bed.
And all the while, in the midst of the squealing, and catching, and laughing, and jumping…all the while the Lord was talking to my spirit.
Somehow this game wasn’t about my boys anymore; it was about me and Him. He was standing back from the edge of the bed, holding out His arms, and telling me to jump. And I was inching as close as I could to the edge, and stretching my arms toward Him, and waiting until there was no chance I might not be caught, and then I was falling forward.
But when Gabe did that to me…he wasn’t really trusting me to catch him. He was guaranteeing that he wasn’t going to hit the floor instead. He was using caution, and a little bit of fear, as his guides.
Don’t I do that too? Don’t I wait until I can see most of the path before I am willing to commit to it? Don’t we do that all the time? We pray about something, and we say we’re trusting God for the answer, for the next step…but we wait for a few more steps to be evident before we actually start taking them.
Nate didn’t do that. He LAUNCHED himself into my waiting arms. Why?? Because he’d done it before! And I always caught him! I’d never dropped him on his face, I’d never lowered my arms at the last minute, I’d never glanced away and forgotten about him. When I said “I will catch you, I promise” Nate knew he could believe me. He trusted my arms. He believed in my love for him, and he knew that love assured his being caught.
Why can’t I be more like Nate?
I have certainly had occasion in my life to feel like I was falling…and to be caught by His arms. I have been afraid, I have been unsure, I have been cautious…and He still caught me when I fell forward.
But, here’s the rub: If I trust His arms, if I believe in His love, if I am confident in His undivided attention…why am I not HURLING myself toward Him? Why am I cautious? Why am I a little bit afraid?
Has He ever forgotten me? Has His love ever been too busy for me? Has He ever said “I promise I will catch you,” and then failed to do so? Have His arms ever been too weak to hold my weight? (not that I would blame Him for that one…there is a lot of weight to hold!)
Hasn’t He always been faithful? Haven’t I always been caught, held, cradled, and loved?
Yes. I have.
Now that Gabe knows I will catch him when he jumps…now he wants to JUMP all the time. He asks to play the game every night. He trusts my arms. He knows my love won’t allow me to let him fall. He hurls himself into my arms, and I catch him.
And this isn’t about me and Gabe anymore, and its not about me and Nate anymore.
Its about me and HIM.
Its about Him calling me to throw caution to the wind. It’s about Him reminding me of all the times He has proven His great love for me. It’s about Him reaching out his nail scarred hands, and saying “I will always catch you.”
And when I can’t remember, and when I am too afraid, and when I sort of fall into His arms…He still catches me. He still loves me. His arms are still faithful, even more than I could ever deserve.
But the look on Gabe’s face when he fell was completely different from the look when he jumped. The sheer joy, the excitement, the accomplishment he felt…
That’s the look I want on my face. Not the relief that He was in fact there when I fell toward Him. Not the barely discernable adrenaline of leaning until my hands touched his.
I want the sheer bliss mixed with the crazy terrified joy, of LAUNCHING myself at His arms, and believing the whole time that He will catch me. The relief and happiness I feel when I land in His arms is magnified, and my heart is racing much faster, and the giggling can’t be contained or stopped…because I trusted Him when I couldn’t even touch His arms…and His arms didn’t let me down. They caught me.
They catch me every time.
It isn’t about His arms. It’s about my legs.
Am I falling? Or am I jumping?