it just happened!
Jasmine and I have been getting serious about our backyard gymnastics. I pulled out two floor mats and a practice beam from my years of gymnastics craze, and we started turning cartwheels all day. We've been stretching seriously, drilling ourselves on basic moves, and working toward better ones. Since I still have the muscle memory and technique knowledge from those golden days of olympic dreams, most of my skills came back quickly, but Jasmine's were taking their time. By the third day, she could do a cartwheel without falling over, so that's marked improvement. We're still working on handstands with the same consistency...
Last week, Jasmine came running in, out of breath, calling, "Sheby! Sheby!" (missing letter for accurate depiction), "Come see what I did! Come see! Watch! Watch!!!" I came outside, and she kicked up into a handstand and then, to my surprise, let her feet drop behind her, bent her back, and landed in a fantastic bridge position.
"Whoa," I said, "nice job. That's really hard. How did you learn that so fast?"
"I wasn't trying to!" she answered. "I was just doing a handstand, and I was falling over, and I caught myself like that! It just happened!"
"Well, that's cool. Good job. Keep it up!" I said, and walked away to get out a mat for myself. And as I walked, I was struck with an interesting spiritual parallel.
Jasmine didn't try to do a handstand-into-a-bridge. She didn't even know what it was in order to try it. But it didn't "just happen." She had been spending hours and hours stretching, working, practicing, drilling, falling, and getting back up again. A few weeks ago, if she'd fallen over from a handstand, she would have landed flat on her back. But now, she has caused herself to be flexible enough, strong enough, and mentally prepared to catch herself when she fell. Sure, it seemed like "it just happened." But she put herself in the position to be ready for it.
I wonder how many of us are waiting for God to do something in our lives. We want to see the Holy Spirit crank out some awesome moves, we want to see amazing things happen. But... maybe some of us aren't actually putting ourselves in the position for God to really use us. Think about it.
If Jasmine had sat inside watching videos and reading books about how to do gymnastics 24/7, I can guarantee you she never would have done that handstand-bridge. If she'd sat on the mat for all those weeks and just thought about what it would be like to do a cartwheel, she wouldn't be able to do it. If all she had done was watch me do handstands over and over and over, she might have learned some things, but she'd never have been able to do a good handstand.
We could spend all our time absorbing the Bible, studying principles, reading stacks of books on theology, or listening to sermons, but it means nothing without action. We are given clear direction and instruction about the will of God, and it involves going and doing things. Go share the gospel on your lunch break. Go care for the widows and orphans. Go give time and money to further God's kingdom. And I believe that when we take action in faith, that's when God will show Himself most clearly in our lives.
Elijah saw God rain fire from Heaven because he called down fire from Heaven.
Daniel saw God shut the mouths of the lions because he was in the lion's den.
Peter walked on water because he got out of the boat.
We will see God come through for us when we are truly dependent on Him.
So prepare. Just like Jasmine with her gymnastics, we need to be out there and working. Sign up to volunteer for something, find a missions trip, start a Bible study with new believers, come up with your own idea. But if you want to see God do crazy things in you, start doing crazy things.
Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Personally, I think the last sentence has a whole lot to do with the first.
Chances are, it's not going to just happen. We understand that in Jasmine's situation. Let's apply it to ours.