It’s spring. Birds and kids are flying. And some of each got banged up recently.
Nick ran around in the dark playing Capture the Flag with his Boy Scout troop. Suddenly, his body hurled forward while his foot stayed behind, bound by a protruding tree root. A trip to the ER and an x-ray showed no broken bone. He’s hopping around on crutches with his ankle in an air cast for the next 7 – 10 days.
Sometimes we just don’t see the twists and turns of life coming. Stuff happens. We’re living fallen in a fallen world.
Simple as that.
Yet, grace abounds.
Could have broken that ankle. Could have needed surgery, like his finger last fall. Even then, could have had his finger sliced off. There’s always something worse. But we’re given better.
The same day he twisted that ankle, his sister took my breath away from the thought of what could have happened, but didn’t.
She wanted to ride her horse on our trails, bareback. She’s a good rider so I reminded her of the two rules she has heard too many times to count:
“No trotting or cantering, just walking. And take your cell phone.”
We humans just don’t like to follow instructions, do we? We think it’ll never happen to us. We think we’ve got life under control. Until we don’t. Until we’re flying on a trail, wind blowing through our hair, the rush of it all so intoxicating.
But then there’s one little trip of a hoof, a horse head lowering, and human becomes bullet, shot through the air, landing hard like lead.
How many times have I fallen hard in this life just because I didn’t think I needed to follow directions on how life is to be lived? How many internal injuries could I have avoided? How many external? Why am I still so blind to the hazards?
Do I think I know better than God? Why do I dare challenge Him, His wisdom, His ways?
Yet I do.
It’s that self-centered sin nature creeping up, convincing me that I—can be—like—God. I’m a variation of the Eve-theme.
Aren’t we all?
I see her coming through the hay field, horse beside her, her helmet cock-eyed.
Where is the cell phone I told you to take? Because what if something unexpected happens and you fall and you’re alone and you need help and your voice just isn’t loud enough to carry 44 acres? Well then, you pick your sore self up as best you can and you go grab that horse, grazing away on the grassy trail up ahead. And you walk all the way back—back to where you started.
Think, child . . .
At least he didn’t run off, right?
At least he let you catch him, right?
At least you had your helmet on, right?
At least you lived and stood up, right?
So many right and good things.
I rushed to the edge of the field. I saw the pain on your prodigal face, your face cringing with each step.
Did you think I would say, “I told you so?”
Did you think I would ask, “Why didn’t you listen to me?”
You’re in pain. You’re hurt. I love you and want to care for your wounds, whatever they are.
So we get that horse in his paddock and your hurt body in the car. Zooming around 80 MPH all the way there, I don’t care if I get pulled over. I pray and try not to think my worst fear.
We pull into the parking lot. I fetch a wheelchair and push you into the ER where you’re banded. Then you’re whisked off through double metal doors and your vitals are taken. The doctor enters and begins a mental status exam. I know what he’s wondering.
He asks your address. You give the one from ten years ago. I tell him so. He looks at me concerned. So I explain your disability, your memory impairment being a part. He asks you easier questions as he examines your small frame, all 5’1 and 100 pounds of you.
A couple hours later, x-rays and brain scan show no injuries—no broken bones—no brain bleed. I do believe in miracles. The doctor prescribes a narcotic for your pain and says you’ll be feeling like you’ve been struck by a truck for a good 7 – 10 days. I’ll take the truck. Seems like a good deal.
All you wanted was a free ride—a bareback canter—the first of spring. But here’s the thing . . .
We’re all so vulnerable, thinking we’re all so invincible.
We’re all so predictable, thinking we’re all so special.
And guess what?
Guess the good news!
We ARE all—so—special! That’s why God gives us so much mercy, so much grace.
We are so, so special to Him. He longs to give us good things, the best things. Instead of giving us what we deserve, God gives us so much less—and so much more. So much less consequence, so much more love.
So we ache today and we can hardly move. Their bodies ache on the couch. My heart aches in my chest, watching them ache. Yet we’re grateful for less of an ache than we all might have had.
I’m grateful, ever grateful, for all the gifts God gives, even when they come as an ache. Because the aches of this life keep me sensitized to God’s grace that abounds for each and every one of us.
And here’s the truth . . .
Our greatest grace is always and forever God Himself, no matter the outcomes in life.
As for that mama Baltimore oriole sitting by our front door, stunned from finding she could not fly through glass? Well, I scoop her banged up body into the palm of my right hand to keep her from the cats. I doubt she knows my hands are for good. She flutters those wings and I feel the fast beat of her heart. But I do not let go till I know she is ready.
And then I open my hands.
And I let her fly.
Wings raise her to the top of the maple. I doubt she knows she’d never rise without the wind beneath her, without the Holy all around her.
But I know.
And I give thanks.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life”? Matthew 6:26-27
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Luke 15:20-24