Heather, my oldest, and I stood at the bottom of the climbing tower, looking up to the top, bending our necks like ostriches, watching Isley, her two-year-old daughter, my granddaughter, as she made it to the top. Not an easy climb for one with a small stature, but she has more courage and less fear than Nana does. My mom would have called it moxie.
But once she got to the top, the view changed. She wasn’t grinning as she made each successive stage; she wasn’t purposeful in her moves. She looked out the hard plastic window for us, being as high up as she could go. We waved and yelled her name, and she finally caught sight of us down below. Way below. And though we couldn’t hear her, both of us could understand what she was trying to say.
Heather and I looked at each other–Isley couldn’t get down. And there was no way, with our not-so-small statures, that either one of us could get to her at the top of the climbing tower. We tried yelling encouragement to her, motioning for her to try coming down, but she kept mouthing the same words.
We realized the only way she would get down was if someone helped her. But none of the kids, going up and down the inside recesses of this tower, were paying any attention to Isley. They’d look at her, push by her, look through her little plastic portal, and then come down. Leaving Isley at the top.
Finally, her two older brothers and sister found us, and they scampered up to help their little sister, not thinking twice about going the distance up or helping guide her down. They didn’t leave her stranded. It was no big thing for them, but it was a really big thing for Isley.
The tip of my iceberg. Jesus, help me.
I realized, watching Isley, stranded and alone, even among all those other kids on the tower, that I strand myself when I make decisions that are not thought through or have not involved others wisely. Decisions that I’ve made apart from prayer and God’s direction, apart from members of the body who could easily speak into my situation. Times when I’ve overcommitted or have left myself no margin but a simmering bad attitude. Times when I’ve made promises and have only half-heartedly fulfilled them because my own exhaustion sapped any caring I might have had.
It’s me thinking I can do it all on my own. Like a two-year-old. And I run ahead, on my own,confident of what I see myself doing, not thinking past the moment, not considering the consequences of what I’m doing. Whether it’s actions or statements or relationships, I plow on till I’m stopped by my own inabilities. Stranded at the top of the tower.
Jesus, help me.
And He does. He never leaves me by myself, never abandons me, never thinks less of me because I’ve had more than my share of mental or character black holes. He is with me, the same yesterday, today and forever. His forgiveness is complete; His grace is sufficient. He alone can get me down from those precarious places I’ve climbed unwisely. And He does so with a gentle hand.