Blog post number two of what I learned on my weekend away at a youth retreat. So my last post was about turning your life around to find God, and this one will talk about Holding onto him. I mean REALLY hold onto him. I hope this will speak to those who are feeling like God is allowing things to happen to you that you feel like you are not ready for. Maybe you are mad at God for this (hopefully not). I’m not saying that what I write in this blog will be exactly the answer why, but I pray that if will open up your perspective to think more broadly in terms of why God COULD be putting you through these situations.
Two things happened on Saturday that really stood out to me as good imagery for holding onto God.
The first was this. So there are two leaders from our youthgroup that are siblings. The brother was sitting in a chair waiting for Saturday morning worship to start and he was talking to people around him and tipping the chair in front of him back and forth. His sister come by and is about to sit down when he tips the chair and accidentally hits her in the knee. She pretended to be really hurt and offended and he tried to lighten the mood by apologizing and asking her to forgive him and saying that he needed a hug from her to prove that she really forgave him. She decided to play “hard-to-get” and refused him the hug (GASP!!). As she sat down on her chair, her brother went up to her to give her a hug and she kinda halfheartedly put her arms around him. He said, “That’s not a REAL hug!! Do it properly!!” and you won’t believe what he did next… He tipped her chair backwards while she was sitting on it (he was still holding her at this point) and her reaction was to grab onto him tightly. Then he set the chair back to normal and said, “you REALLY hugged me that time!!” (Oh how I love these two siblings, they really know how to brighten me day!!)
You may be thinking what does this have to do with God giving people situations that they are not ready to handle. Well, think about it… In this story, did the girl expect her brother to tip the chair when he was hugging her? I don’t think so. Imagine that you are that girl and God is the brother in the story. Something happens to you and you are hurt and so God says, “Give me a hug… A REAL hug…” You choose to oblige only when he initiates the hug by putting his arms around you. Even then you only put your arms around him softly, barely qualifying your choice of action as an embrace. So God tips you back quickly but slightly and unexpectedly, while holding onto you tightly. How do you react, do you return the embrace and hold him tighter? Do you panic, freeze and blame him afterwards and never want him to get close anymore? What do you do? You see, the thing I love about this story was that the brother had the whole thing planned out and was in complete control of the situation, just like God. The rest of the story was up to the sister to decide. So what do you do?
The second story I want to tell you is this. So at the lodge that we were retreating at, there was a ropes/obstacle course. Our youth leaders were in charge of running this event during free time. Now on this particular day, it was raining hard. The whole time we were out there we only had three participants show up. We kinda got bored (OK not kinda, we DID get bored…) so we decided to try some of the obstacles. The one that we were particularly proud of accomplishing was climbing a 12 foot tall wall as a team. The way this works is we had to get someone over the top (without help from the top) and then everybody else would be pushed up from the bottom and helped by the person that already made it to the top. Once at the top, we were not allowed to go back down to push the last person from the bottom (though spotters were allowed to support him/her when he/she jumped to try and grab the people at the tops hands, they were not allowed to push him/her and hold that person until they had a firm grip with the people up top). Therefore it is up to the last person to work with the people at the top to make it over.
Similar to the first story, imagine that you are that last person to get over the wall and God is the people at the top of the wall and people that support you in life are the spotters. God is reaching down the wall to you and it is up to you to jump and grab hold of his outstretched hands. Once you grab hold you cannot let go or else you will fall, but if you fall you have at least two choices, get back up to try again, or stay lying down on the wet ground (as far from God’s reaching hand as you can be). Other people may support you in life (like the spotters at the wall), but they cannot push you up and hold you there. YOU need to hold on and work with God to pull yourself over that wall (or whatever situation you need to get over). It doesn’t work if you only let the people up top pull you over without using your own effort to get over (in fact that might hurt you more than falling).
I think that when these situations happen to you, it’s because God wants to test you to see if you trust him (if so how much and to what extent). Also God knows that you won’t have to go through the situations alone, and he wants you to realize this fact. Of course there could be many more reasons why, but these are the two that really stood out to me this last weekend.
So what do you choose? Will you hold tightly onto God when something you are unprepared for happens? Or will you let him do all the holding and just pray that you make it through? Do you choose to work with God to get over that wall with the support of others? Or do you choose to again let him do all the work and just pray that he manages to pull you over the wall?