As a parent, I see a bouncy house as a huge air inflated, germ infested, loud, injury waiting to happen. However, all my kids see is FUN! Recently, our church had a block party complete with, you guessed it, bouncy houses. My kids were overjoyed with excitement, particularly my 4 year old. Joy (my 4 year old) was ready to conquer all of the bouncy houses. She quickly ran from one to the next with excitement overload, as she couldn’t decide which one she wanted to try first. She knew nothing of the lines of children who were politely waiting their turn. She ran right to the front of the line as if they had all been waiting just for her. Each time I would pick her up and take her to the back of the line and instruct her that she needed to wait like everyone else.
Lesson One: Waiting Is Hard.
For some reason, my daughter thought she was entitled to the front of the line. She thought, in her little 4-year-old mind, that it was her party and everyone else
was just an extra. As a parent, most of my days are spent trying to teach my children a lesson that I am still learning. Here is the lesson: this is not your party and the world does not revolve around you. From the time we are born we have a selfish inclination to want to put ourselves at the front of the line. We would rather others wait than we wait. To follow Jesus means you let others go first. The Bible teaches us to do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility we should think of others as more important than ourselves. The good thing about waiting is that if you take the time to look around, God has probably put you in line with people you can make friends with. The wait may be better than the bouncy house.
Lesson Two: Obstacles Are Part Of Life. Tackle Them With Excitement.
I loved watching Joy continue to get knocked down and bounce right back up and keep going. She has always been very resilient. She tried to climb the wall of the obstacle course and fell multiple times. She smiled and giggled and got back up and tried again. I know that life is no bouncy house. Over the years I have also learned that so much of life is not about the obstacles in our lives, but about how we respond to them. Life is really hard. Life is better for those who can keep getting up and moving forward. I wonder if you and I might make more progress in life if we had a different attitude towards obstacles.
Joy did not let the obstacles slow her down or discourage her, and neither should we. We should know that on this crazy bouncy house called life we are going to fall, get knocked over and even get run over. Get up. Smile. Move forward.
Lost your job, get up and find a new one.
Lost your hope, it may be right over the next obstacle. Keep moving forward.
Friends let you down, find some new ones.
You get the idea.
What is the obstacle of life today that is knocking you down? Identify it, acknowledge it, make a plan and move forward.
For the Christian, the Bible gives hope and meaning to the obstacles we face. It says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Lesson 3: You Might Not Want Help But You Need It
Her favorite bouncy was the obstacle course. This was a big one with lots of little areas she had to go through and climb over. I was nervous about Joy going on this obstacle course because she is small for her age and she has Down Syndrome, both of which Joy is completely oblivious. I didn’t want her to get hurt as older and bigger children raced through the course. I did what I often do. I sent her big brother (Ty) with her to make sure she would make it through safely.
Joy is very headstrong and stubborn. She would not quit, but there were a couple of barriers that no matter how hard she tried she wasn’t going to get over them. She didn’t want help but she needed it.
She couldn’t quite make it over a certain wall so her big brother gave her a gentle nudge (yeah right, more like a mighty shove). This was enough to help her make it to the next obstacle. It does something to a father’s heart to see one sibling helping another.
There are times in our life when we all need help!
When the obstacles of life come along and we get stuck, we need a gentle push, or a helpful hand to pull us through. Sometimes we need a mighty shove! So many people get stuck and can’t move because they don’t have anyone to help them along. They’ve chosen to isolate themselves and they think they can make it through life by themselves, but they can’t.
None of us can.
My little daughter with special needs will always need help, but so will all my other children. They will all experience hurt, disappointment, setbacks, fears, and the hardship of life. This is why family is important. This is why a church family is important is as well.
The Bible says “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
It blows my mind to think that we are more connected than ever and yet people feel lonelier than ever. The suicide rates in the US keep going up as more and more people find themselves hopeless. We all have a deep need for the help of others but most of us are too prideful or afraid to ask. God hardwired the need for friendship and community into every person.
If you have made it to an obstacle in life and you keep trying but keep getting knocked down, it’s time to ask for help.
Start with your family. If you have someone in your family that will help you, reach out to them and ask for help.
There is another family that is often stronger then blood relatives, it’s a church family. Many times people are estranged from their own family and don’t feel they have anywhere to turn. If you find yourself in that situation go to a local church. Meet some people. Find a friend. A loving church is the best place in the world to find real community.
I would love to meet you at Christ Place Church. You can find out how to find some friends here www.christplace.com