Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. ~Psalm 28:6,7
For those who weren’t at worship on Sunday I mentioned that I have been active in sports my entire life. I know it might not look it, but I have always been in relatively good shape. (Round is still a shape right?) But even when I am in very good shape, there are things that have always been my nemesis.
One of the exercises I have always dreaded is box jumps. In this exercise, you lay a wooden box on the ground and stand flat-footed and then jump up, landing both feet on the box. For some people this is easy, but for me, not so much. The reason that I think I haven’t been good at this is because once, when in high school almost 20 years ago, I was doing this exercise when I miss-jumped and smashed my shin on the corner of the box, leaving a dent in my shin for about four weeks.
This morning I arrived at the gym at 6 am. I looked at the board and sure enough - one of the exercises today was box jumps…my nemesis. Not just any box jumps, but 30-inch box jumps (it really isn’t that high). I was dreading the fact that I showed up today. I am comfortable jumping 24 inches, but I had not done 30 inches since I smashed my shin in high school.
As we got to that point in the workout I stood looking at that 30-inch box as if it were 10-feet tall. The wooden box stood there intimidating me because I knew how bad it could hurt me. After what seemed like minutes going by I finally got up enough courage to jump… I didn’t make it. One foot made it but my other didn’t. I caught myself, though, and didn’t get hurt. I stood there looking at that box and tried again; I didn’t make it. Part of me was thinking "It is too tall, just type it down and make it easier on yourself", but the other side of me said, “You can make it. You have to let go of the fear of being hurt and trust that you can.”
Psalm 28 is a Psalm King David wrote asking for help. Toward the end of his prayer, David affirms that “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts…” For a warrior there is nothing more important in battle for protection, and the protection of others, than one’s shield. David, being a warrior, knew this. He also knew that no matter how bad things were he could trust in God to protect him. No matter how sad, lonely, sinful or defeated David was, he always trusted in God.
How many times do we look at a 30-inch box and turn it into a 10-foot wall. How many times are we afraid to jump at something because we are afraid? How many times do we try to control everything, because to trust that God will provide for us is too scary?
As I stood at the edge of the box for the third time, I convinced myself that I could make it - I jumped and I did make it! After I did it once I was able to do it again and again. Then after the 15th one, I got over confident, lost focus, and when I jumped, I missed, running my shin right into the side of the box, just like I knew I would. After 15 times of successfully jumping on the box, I finally got the result that I knew I would get…to smash my shin. At that moment the trainer asked if I wanted him to lower it to make it easier. I said no, because I knew if I took the easy way out I would still stand in fear of a 30-inch box.
I find that the same thing often happens when it comes to trusting in God. We want to trust God with the problems, the hurts and the pains of our lives. Sometimes we have a problem and it scares us to trust God with that problem. When we finally do, sometimes it works out, while other times things seem to be working out for a while, before we slip and bash our shins. We are left with the feeling, "I knew it wouldn’t work out" or "I was silly to think God would help me." It is not unusual to think this way. King David thought this way a lot. He questioned God, wondered where God was at times, but in end King David always came back saying that he trusts in God and he trusts in God’s work.
Our God is the same God that Abraham trusted, Moses trusted, David trusted. Despite their trust in the Lord they didn’t walk away without scars on their shins where they stumbled. But we must remember that trusting in the Lord isn’t just until we fall down and get hurt. True trust comes when we get up even after we fall, after we are hurt and jump again, knowing that God will be there even when we fall.