Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Playground Lesson 3: Monkey Bars - Let Go and Grab Hold

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     Change is something that does not come easy for me. I have had quite a bit of it in my life, but that does not mean it has been easy. When I am in a situation that has become familiar, it takes a lot to get me to move on to something new.
     It is kind of like playing on the monkey bars on the school playground. When I first tried to cross those bars, about all I could do was to hang on for dear life to the first two bars. I looked admiringly on the other kids who could swing their way across the bars like ... well ... like monkeys.
     In yesterday's post, we looked at a few facts about tether ball that are much the same as our everyday lives. Let's look at a few of facts about monkey bars.
  • You need a certain amount of courage, especially at the start.
  • A bit of momentum in your swing helps you go farther faster.
  • You cannot move forward unless you let go of what is behind.
How are these three facts about playing on the monkey bars similar to everyday life? What lessons can we take away from the playground today?
  • Courage - Anyone who hopes to embark on some new endeavor or simply meet new challenges without curling up and hiding needs to have courage. Often, the hardest thing about moving into any new situation is that first step. If we hang onto the "first bar" for dear life, afraid that we will fall if we let go, we will never go anywhere.  We need to remember that we care called to be strong and courageous, knowing that God does not expect us to face the challenge alone.
Be strong and courageous, ... for the Lord your God is with you.
Deuteronomy 31:6
  • Momentum - As is as true in life as it is on the monkey bars that the crossing is easier if you maintain your momentum. On the monkey bars, a child might start off well, but in the middle of the crossing, he gets tired, he slows down, he just hangs there and eventually drop. We sometimes do that in life, don't we? We start off well, but after a while, we give up. We feel it is just too difficult. In a sense, we hang there in the middle of the monkey bars of a life challenge, and drop off.
          The apostle Peter knows what that is like. Remember the incident where the disciples saw Jesus walking toward them across a stormy sea. They were all scared, but Peter said, "Jesus, if it is really You, tell me to come out to meet you on top of the water." Jesus told him to come, and he did. 
          Peter started off well. He actually did some wave-walking himself. Then he saw the wind and the waves and got scared. He had been doing a great job "crossing the monkey bars", but fear stopped him. He froze. He began to sink. (Matthew 14:22-32 - Julie's paraphrase)

Clip art from
          Let's learn this lesson from the playground, and keep up our momentum when we once start to cross our own "monkey bars". Don't get sidetracked by anything until you reach the other side.
  • Let go - There is at least one playground lesson that is particularly unique to the monkey bars. We need to be willing to let go of what is behind in order to reach forward and grab hold of what is ahead.  The apostle Paul says it very well.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal ...
Philippians 3:13-14
          This is perhaps the most difficult thing I have had to do in life. As I mentioned before, when I am in familiar territory, I like to stay put. The strange thing is that I do that even when the familiar territory is not really all that great. 
          For me, this has happened at least three times when it came to the kind of work I was doing. I knew that the place I was working was not a good fit for me. At least, it was no longer a good fit. There was an element of security, though, in sticking with the  job I had, so I stubbornly held onto what I knew. 
          Guess what? God wanted to take me to the other side of the monkey bars, and I stubbornly hung onto the first bar. I had to learn to let go of the old before I could grab hold of the new thing that He had in store for me. Thankfully, I did eventually "let go" and "grab hold". and I am so glad I did. 
     Are you faced today with a challenge that seems a bit scary? Picture yourself at one end of the monkey bars at school. Ask for the courage to start swinging out and then do it. Keep the momentum going once you have started  Always remember, throughout the crossing, you have to let go of what is behind so you can grab hold of what lies ahead.

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