A year ago, Jackson and Emmy (and their parents) came to Denver for the Bear Valley lectureship, and while they were here, we made a trip up to one of our happy places: the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove along many of the park’s winding roads, admiring God’s breathtaking panoramic peaks and valleys. Herds of elk were spread out in Moraine Park, and huge bulls would occasionally lower their heads, shake their enormous antlers and, with a decidedly non-masculine high-pitched squeal, chase off any young whippersnapper who dared to flirt with any of their harem. Under our watchful eye, Jackson and Emmy, oblivious to danger, scampered over rocks and ran through the prickly grass, clambering to the tops of small boulders and throwing their arms wide as though they’d conquered Everest.
Later we made a trek around Sprague Lake, and their daddy set up his camera, hoping to capture images of resident moose. John and I followed the kids, loving their sense of adventure as they peered under rocks, inched their toes perilously close to the water’s edge, and packed their pockets full of forest treasure: tiny pine cones, pebbles, and snail shells. They jumped and ran (well, Emmy pranced) and tripped and stumbled and got tired of walking. They didn’t always want to stay on the paths…they wanted to struggle—by themselves—over every fallen tree and jagged stump, only occasionally looking up and reaching for our helping hands. Rather than going around them, they wanted to climb over big rocks and take the difficult route through the trees. They fell and cried and then got back up to do it all over again.
At one point, Jordan had walked out on a fallen log and Jackson wanted to follow him. His little feet kept slipping off and he was getting frustrated, until Jordan said, trying to help him balance, “Jackson, look at me, and you won’t fall off.” With those words, immediate tears came to my eyes. I thought—isn’t this ME? All of my running around and struggling to make things work out my way, on my terms…even the treasure I pack into my proverbial pockets is so earth-bound. So often I choose a zigzagging route when the Lord has already laid out the straight path for me. I stumble and fall and get tired and cry, so often resisting the mercy and the strong hand and the outstretched arm of the One who wants more than anything to provide me with all that I need. If I would simply keep my eyes—my life—focused on Him, I would not fall.
There are a lot of ways I’d love to be like Jackson and Emmy: they are quick to forgive, innocent, and genuine. They are guileless. They smile freely and make others smile and laugh in return. I love them with my whole heart, and I learn by watching them. But it’s not good for me to be childlike in this regard, resisting the Lord’s guidance and insisting on my own way. Their childish feet toddle and stumble in their little daily wanderings, and their eyes tend to be fixed on inconsequential things. But my mature feet are running a race of utmost importance, and my eyes must be fixed on the Lord, the “author and perfecter of faith,” (Heb. 12:2). I will run with endurance, looking at Him, and then I will never grow weary or fall.