Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Faith in the Stepping

Our daughter, Evangeline, is just over 11 months old. She has been a go-getter from the day she was born; she came out screaming and by day 2 was holding her head up for 5-7 seconds at a whack (it's not abnormal to see a brandy new baby hold their head up for 1-3 seconds - she even shocked our pediatrician). Evie was fully mobile with commando crawling before she was 6 months old and was fully adept at climbing up the stairs to her room before she was 8 months old. She took her first step without holding on to anything before she was 10 months old and has been pushing around her brother's ride-on toys ever since. When pushing them around wasn't enough, she decided that getting on them and riding them would be much better.

But when it comes to walking, our boisterous little Evie-girl is nervous.

She will cruise along the wall, hold on to chairs (even push them across the kitchen), and walk around with her little hand gripping my finger or even just my sweater sleeve. When it comes to letting go, however, her boldness seems to dissipate and a look of trepidation creeps on to her little smiling face. If we put her out at arms' length and let go, she will only take a step or two (sometimes now three or maybe four) before diving back into Mommy or Daddy's arms. Sometimes, if she's overtired or overstimulated, she will just drop to the floor and crawl onto our laps.

In all instances, she covers up her nervousness with a hug and a kiss on my shoulder. So at least she's cute about it.

Regardless, Evie just hasn't found the faith in herself to let go yet, and this has been going on for about 2 months now. Her cruising distance will get farther and farther with her figuring out new ways to cruise from one thing to another (I've noticed she'll cruise the path of least crawling these days), but she will not let go and walk from point A to point B yet. The little face tells us the story of the reason why every time we let go - she's scared, she lacks the confidence, she wants us to help her.

As I was contemplating this one night, I opened my Bible up to work on my current reading plan. As it happened, Matthew 14 was one of the chapters for the evening which contains the story of Jesus walking on the water in the storm while the disciples are on the boat (Matthew 14:22-33). Whenever I have read this story or heard it preached, the highlight has been the need for us to place our faith in Jesus because He will get us through the storm - which I fully agree with (short version). This particular evening, however, I was struck specifically by Peter's actions rather than the words of Jesus.

"Then Peter called to him, 'Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.' 'Yes, come,' Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord," he shouted." (Matthew 14:28-30)

Image from "The Brick Bible" - which, yes, is a thing and yes, we will own someday.,
After I read those verses that night, I put down my little highlighter and I put down my Bible and I just thought for a minute. Then in my head, I did this:

"Then Evie looked at her, 'Mom, if it's really you, tell me to go to you, walking on the floor without holding on.' 'Yes come,' Mom said. So Evie took a step on the floor toward Mom. But when she saw the open floor and nothing to hold on to, she was terrified and dove into her mom's lap. 'Catch me, Mom!' she said with her eyes."

Peter and my Evie girl have a lot in common, don't they?

In fact, I would say most of us aren't that different from a child learning how to walk when it comes to trusting Jesus to help us through scary, new experiences. Or through the storms of life.

But even though Jesus tells us He will be there, we still get scared. We still have a small (or large) part of us that loses faith that He will carry us through or give us the guidance we need or provide the resources necessary. In the same way, even though I am standing right in front of Evie ready to catch her if she teeters - she still does not have the full confidence to take more than just a few steps.

I would even argue that as parents, we have a lot in common with Jesus who asked Peter why he had so little faith. When Evie gets nervous, I always tell her "Evie-girl, I'm RIGHT HERE! I won't let you get hurt, it's OK to walk - I promise!"

With that perspective, maybe next time I'm being called to step out in faith or I'm in the middle of a storm - maybe I should better remember what Jesus did for Peter.

"Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. 'You have so little faith,' Jesus said. 'Why do you doubt me?'" (Matthew 14:31)

At some point, Evie will stop doubting that I will be there and she will have the faith she needs to walk. And when that happens, there will be no stopping that determined, energetic little girl.

If we stop doubting Jesus and have faith - there will be no stopping any of us.

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