I was the full-time daycare person for my oldest niece until she was four. It was just me and her all day while her parents worked. We went to the mom and me classes, swim lessons, dance class-the whole bit. At the time, I lived close to Washington Square mall in Portland. So we would go there to walk the mall before it opened in the morning, and then stay to shop for a while after. We bonded firmly and are still very close years later.
When she comes to visit me, one of our favorite things to do is go to the arcade/fun center in Bend. We play games, laugh, have fun together and forget the troubles of this world. Guitar Hero is one of my favorites, I’m not very good at it, but I love trying! There’s always lots of laughing, dancing to the music and just general merriment that builds good memories.
Well, this last time we went, there was a new game-Dance Revolution. It has an electronic display, like a giant TV screen that shows you the picture of what you’re supposed to be doing. You stand on a platform that has squares on it. First, you stand in the middle square that is just metal. The squares forward, backward, right and left of you are all touch sensitive. So when the screen and music tell you to, you step on the correct sensitive squares to get points and dance to the music. We both love dancing, so it played right into our wheelhouse.
We played at the same time, there are two stations side by side, each on our own set of squares. It took me a little bit to get the hang of it, especially when you have to jump up and land on two sensitive squares at once! All to the beat of the music and with the right feet on the right squares, it’s a good challenge.
I was following along well, and we were having a good time. Then I got distracted by the graphics on the screen and missed a few steps. That got me flustered and I scrambled to get caught up. The more I tried to catch up, the more I messed up and missed steps and the screen kept telling me I was doing it wrong!
Finally, I stopped, stood on the plain metal square, and took a breath. I told her, “I’m just going to start from here and try again!” I didn’t try to catch up or anything. I waited, listened for the beat, and started from where I was. My score was still lower, but at least I was having fun again and playing the game.
On the drive home I started thinking. I had recently needed to hit the reset button on my life, again. My steps were all messed up, I was hitting the wrong squares, making the wrong choices. My score was plummeting and I was miserable. I thought, maybe this game could give me some insight into what to do with my life. Maybe I just need to stand on the metal square for a moment and get my bearings. Maybe I need to refocus on the music and find the beat again.
I think we all get there sometimes. We think everything’s going fine, we’re dancing on the platform, getting our groove on, and suddenly something happens that throws our steps off. Whether it’s choices that we have made, or choices others have made and impacted us with, it’s our option to stop and stand still.
So I chose to do that. That night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep, I talked with God. I told Him I wanted to be in sync with Him again. I wanted to find His beat again and get back in step with Him. When sleep finally came, it was more peaceful than it had been in a while.
I still had to make the difficult choices to change the beat that I was on, but it was worth it when I finally felt my steps align with His. All I had to do was stop, listen and start from where I was. There was no catching up, no do over. All He wants to do is take you from where you are right now, to where He has planned for you. My favorite scripture is “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
Are you tired of trying to catch up and get it right? Are you out of breath and out of step? Stop condemning yourself and just stand still on the metal square. Feel the solid strength beneath your feet and focus on the beat of His heart. It has been beating for you since the universe began. Before you were conceived, He loved you. No matter what you’ve done, He loves you. No matter where you are, He loves you. Just close your eyes and listen to the beat.
I was talking with some friends who were expecting their first child. They were super excited, as can be expected, and they were happily babbling about the decorations for the nursery. They had chosen a paint color they loved, hung adorable pictures and created custom curtains. The crib they picked out was the best money could buy and they spent hours putting it together. It had all the newest safety features and the best mattress for ultimate comfort. There was a rocking chair that had been handed down for generations in their family and they were super excited to include it. All these preparations, all this effort and the baby wasn’t even there yet!
You know, our world is amazing. There are colors everywhere that we can’t even come close to duplicating in paint. The scenery is so amazing that millions of pictures exist to try and capture the breathtaking beauty around us. The sun, moon and stars are so mesmerizing that an entire industry is built around studying them and sending back pictures so we can appreciate their splendor. There are countless creatures all wonderful and complicated, so many in fact that we keep discovering more!
I am just as awed by nature as the next person. I can sit and watch a waterfall for hours. I love walking along the beach and feeling the power of the ocean. Seeing those pictures of star nurseries in space takes my breath away.
However, I think we can get confused. We can put so much importance on nature, and the effort that God put into it, that we miss the point.
The world was just a nursery. He was preparing a place for His precious child and He did it with excitement! You can tell by the colors and creatures He made for us. I can just see Him painting stripes on the zebra thinking, “I can’t wait to show to this to him-he’s going to love it!” Placing the sun to give light for us during the day, and the moon to softly kiss us at night.
I see God as an expectant parent, loving His children enough to prepare a nursery for them that goes way beyond paint and window treatments. Out of His imagination came millions of things too wonderful to understand. He gave us His image so we would never forget we are His. He gave us His Spirit so we could always feel connected to Him. He gave us free will, so the relationship with Him would always be a choice. He gave us His love, which is the greatest gift of all.