Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jonah 3:1-4:11; Psalms 32, 143; Hebrews 12:1-14; Luke 18:9-14

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143.)

I remember when my son enthusiastically said he wanted to go on a church-sponsored, one-day ski trip. He said he wanted to learn how to ski. Because he is a perfectionist and quick to be frustrated, I was hesitant. But he really wanted this. He said he could take a group skiing lesson, as noted on the brochure. Then he asked if I’d ski, too. Well, there are members of my family who are athletic and excel in any and every sport they try, but I’m not one of them! Also, I’m from Texas, where we stayed home on the rare days we had flurries. Certainly, I wasn’t about to set my feet voluntarily on a pair of long, thin slats (with no brakes, I might add) to go down a snow-packed hill. I told my son that I would go with him to the ski resort and that he could take a group lesson, but when he was on skis he’d be on his own. I’d be nearby, sipping hot chocolate. He said that was fine. Nevertheless, I remained apprehensive.

Shortly after arriving at the ski resort, he joined his friends for the group lesson. I stood nearby, watching. Some of his friends learned quickly and skied down the beginner’s hill almost effortlessly, but not my son. The harder he tried, the more often he fell. At one point he fell face-down into the snow. Surely, I thought, he’ll give up and join me. But he didn’t. He lifted his head and screamed as loud as he could. I felt so helpless.

“O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” (Psalm 143.)

I called him to come to me, telling him it was OK to stop. But even as tears streamed down his face, he shook his head “No.” He was determined to learn.

By the end of the group lesson, my son was extremely frustrated and upset that he hadn’t learned how to ski. He wouldn’t be comforted. Finally, I prayed. Almost immediately, I realized that although I couldn’t help him, someone else could. I hired an instructor to give him a private lesson. And with focused, personal, one-on-one instruction, my son finally skied down that hill.

I was lucky to find a private instructor so late in the day. More importantly, I was blessed to have been given the insight to ask for help. It still surprises me how often I try to fix things myself when all I have to do is pray and listen. God is there, all the time, ready to guide us and to strengthen us with his grace.

“Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.... Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your Good Spirit lead me on level ground...for I am your servant.” (Psalm 143.) Amen.

Martha Olson

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