When my oldest daughter was five years old, she wanted a trampoline. I wasn’t opposed to having a trampoline. I’d been in gymnastics for years when I was younger, and I knew the trampoline would provide many hours of entertainment and exercise, but I also knew it could be dangerous. I thought I’d postpone the trampoline-buying experience by telling her we’d get a trampoline as soon as she saved enough money. With an upcoming birthday and some added help from grandparents, the saving process didn’t take as long as I expected.
We set up the trampoline in the backyard but established firm rules before anyone jumped on it for the first time. We wanted to make sure the girls learned tricks progressively: no double flips before learning to bounce repeatedly while staying in the middle of the trampoline! As the skill levels increased, I caught myself replaying many of the things I learned in gymnastics, specifically, how you must place your body not throw your body.
In other words, if you see someone do something and think you can duplicate it, you need to have a plan for what you’re going to do with your body before you haphazardly throw it into the air! That’s how people get hurt. It’s important to have as much control over where your body is and how it’s moving when it’s twisting high in the air as when you’re standing or walking with feet firmly planted on the ground.
I remember my gymnastics trainer explaining to me what my body would have to do before I tried my first full-twisting back. I’d seen others do the same stunt hundreds of times, but I likely would have broken something had I simply thrown my body into the air and tried to duplicate what I’d seen. I know I wouldn’t have completed it successfully. Even with the instruction, I didn’t complete it successfully the first time – or many times after that. However, my attempts were increasingly more accurate and safe. To be honest, the technique my trainer taught me was nothing like what I would have tried on my own. I had no idea the intricacies involved in what I’d watched so many times.
It’s fun to fly through the air. It’s important to be agile, which involves quickness. However, agility also involves strength and power. It’s the coordination of nimbleness and control.
Spiritual growth requires agility. We need to be ready to response quickly to a wide variety of opportunities and situations. We need to respond with assurance.
Learn the truth and never reject it. Get wisdom, self-control, and understanding. (Proverbs 23:23)
When we have self-control, we respond with strength and power but not our own strength and power. We yield to God. We seek his wisdom and understanding, which provides us with the guidance and provision we need to proceed. We don’t simply look at what someone else is doing and try to copy it. We don’t throw our faith haphazardly in the air, hoping to master a specific skill or accomplish a level of achievement. We place ourselves intentionally in a relationship with God and then proceed with trust he will train us with intricacies we’d never imagine by just glancing at an end product.
God wants our participation. He invites us into a relationship of trust that allows us to respond quickly to him in all situations, accessing his power and strength to help us accomplish immeasurably more than we can imagine on our own.