My time off is not going as well as I had hoped and I am incredibly grateful to the wonderful bloggers, like Ryan, who have been willing to help me out with a guest post.
So, without further ado, I give you…
An Ice Skating Lesson – by Ryan Tate
My midsized suburb town in northeast Ohio was recently ranked in the 100 top places to live in America. It was largely due to the great falls river square area they have downtown. It is there that every winter the city sets up its very own free outdoor ice skating rink. Every day during the winter months I drive by this rink on my way home from work. And every day there is an abundance of skaters at the rink. It’s our very own winter wonderland. It makes me envious because I never learned to skate properly. I learned by trial and error:
Trial: attempt to move forward
Error: fall flat on my rear
Trial: attempt to make the turn without falling flat on my rear
Error: fall flat on my face
The process looked similar to that, with a repeat pattern of course. After years of winter youth group outings growing up I can now successfully go to a skating rink and spend more time standing on the ice than lying on the ice. Nevertheless, you won’t find me frequenting the rink. I still prefer to stay on surfaces that are not slick death traps.
But have you ever stood and watched a good skater? Have you ever watched figure skating in the Olympics or the World Skating Championships?
Graceful, smooth, elegant, and attractive are all words that come to mind. They effortlessly glide across the ice. When done at its best, it is a seamless dance that gives the impression that the skater is floating weightless above ground. As if they are being carried by something, or someone. They jump and spin and twist and turn like their energy is coming from outside of themselves. They make it look so, so easy.
Yet ask any world class skater and “easy” would not be the word they would use to describe it. Gravity is their enemy. And despite the illusion we get when watching, they are without a doubt exerting every ounce of strength and stamina they can gather. After a routine their bodies are spent. You can tell by the way they sit out of breath waiting for their scores. They are applying the same amount of athleticism and power, if not more, than any football or basketball player or any P90X workout. Yet the picture we see sitting at home on our couches is drastically different. We see a dance. We see grace and fluidity. We see perfection.
Paul says this in Colossians 1:28-29 – “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” [emphasis added]
More often than not I try to go through life under my own strength and power. When I do that I end up going through a pattern of trial and error like listed above. I try to move forward, I fall down. I try to turn, I fall down. Then I act surprised when it happens over and over and over again. Why can’t I be graceful like the figure skater? It’s because I consider perfection in my life, through my own attempts, something that I can grasp. But it is not attainable through my own attempts. The power that can pick me up and glide me through life, the power that gives me grace and fluidity in life, the power that has to work within me, is HIS power. Not my power. When we call on that power, when we tap into that energy source it will be like people are watching a graceful figure skater. They will see your life as a dance. They will see a life of grace and elegance. They will see Christ. They might see some slips here and there or a double-toe-loop landing that wasn’t exactly right. But those slips and falls are the times when we go back to using our own energy and power.
Jesus left so that he could send us a gift. That gift was “his energy, which so powerfully works in us.” It is the Holy Spirit. This is the power and energy we need use. This is the power and energy that carries us. And it is the same power that picks us up off the ice when we fall down. Seek out the truth of Paul’s message to the Colossians. Struggle with HIS energy and let it powerfully work in you.
Did you ever learn how to ice skate?
Is your life in a constant pattern of trial and error with no sign of a break in that pattern? Why?