I am not at all an athletic kind of person but I have endeavoured to attend at least one school camp with each of my daughters. I love the idea of it in my head, then I rediscover it is days of no sleep and physical exhaustion – but also a whole lot of fun.

Parents are supposed to be responsible (ha!) so I was paired with another mother to help with the confidence course. I was always useless at this when I was a kid, being short and no muscle, so supervision only was a good idea. My daughter did not need her school camp to be remembered for mama’s awkward injuries from poor balance on the beam.

One group of kids were super enthusiastic about the challenge they had been given. They were instructed to get their whole team up and over the high wall, but they could not send someone back around to help out. They were going to need to be quick-witted and sure-footed.

At first, they started out confident and raced across to the wall, but after some time they realised there were some problems. While some were able to leap high and grab the top to pull themselves up, others came to a thudding halt. One or two gave up altogether.

Some sat at the top and tried to pull their friends up. The kids who were offered a helping hand were the most persistent. Gripping the hands of their teammates, they would kick and slip as they tried to get themselves over the wall. I know we're not supposed to laugh, but their exaggerated falls were really quite funny.

In some ways, life is like a great obstacle course. We have challenges thrown up along our paths and have to figure out how we are going to get through them. Like the kids, it’s not always about just getting ourselves over, but also our loved ones and those we are called to care for.

Many times, despite our enthusiasm and repeated attempts, we can feel like we are kicking against the wall and losing our footing. We may find ourselves slipping, unable to get the foothold we need to make it.

You may find yourself slipping financially, whether it's getting behind in payments or loss of income. You may be conscious of yourself slipping morally if you are engaging in behaviour that God has warned you against and is damaging relationships. Maybe you are at risk of slipping into depression (maybe not for the first time), or away from your spouse. Perhaps you fear slipping up at work and failure is frightening. It could even be as common as regretting a slip of the tongue.

Welcome to the human race! We’re always slipping up! -- but here’s the good news -- God is in this with you.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”

your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

your consolation brought me joy.

Psalm 94:18-19 (NIV)

Consider the Consolation Prize

God is not unaware of our struggles and efforts. When you feel like you’re slipping and you are full of anxiety He is fully present. His love is not stronger some days, but weaker on others. His love consistently never fails. That is why we see that God doesn’t just respond with compassion when we feel like we have lost our footing, but He consols us.

Mark 2 tells the story of a group of quick-witted friends who were determined to overcome a great obstacle together. They had no intention of seeking Jesus for themselves while leaving a brother behind. They combined all their strength and wits to lift him over walls and through a roof just to meet with Jesus.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that He had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and He preached the word to them.

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:1-5 (NIV)

How Jesus responded to the man demonstrates the Father’s love towards us. First, He made clear what his primary concern was --- this man was a child of God. Although the man and his friends had come to Jesus with a great physical need, it was also a matter of the heart. God was consoling him.

Consolation is an act. It is the intentional giving of comfort and strength to someone. God’s consolation is not simply encouraging words. It is an impartation of his love and power into our hearts. Consider how powerful these words Jesus said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matt 9:2 NIV).

As the Holy Spirit ministers to us, his unfailing love supports us and lifts us up. When we feel ourselves slipping, or we cannot walk at all, God’s love re-orientates our mind and heart to be in a better position to overcome the challenges we face.

The New Living Translation puts it this way, Cheer up, son!"

-- when we are cheered up, we can get up!

Jesus responded: 'Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.

So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.

This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Mark 2:9-12

Not only was this man consoled, but the consolation prize (2nd place prize) of being able to walk again was pretty cool too. i.e. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.Psalm 94:19 (NIV)

Drop to your knees to find your footing

At the school camp, the bunch of kids I was supervising continued to offer each other encouragement and support, much like the men in Mark's account. As time went on, they soon figured out that to get everyone up to the top of the wall, they would have to consider who was the weakest and who was the strongest. I watched as together they became quick-witted and sure-footed. A few minutes later, they cheered loudly with joy at finally getting everyone over the wall.

How did they do it?

Someone dropped to their knees.

The kids worked out who it was amongst them that had the strength and power to pull themselves up and over the wall. This person then dropped to their knees and allowed each of the others to stand on their back and boost them up and over. Only after the last of the kids had safely made it to the top did he make a running jump and haul himself over.

Jesus dropped to his knees for us.

There are several accounts of when Jesus fell to his knees on our behalf. Aside from all the occasions spent time with the Father to pray for us, we also have this intimate account of when He faced the wall of life and death.

'Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” - Mark 14:35-36 (NIV)

Jesus knew what lay ahead of him, but even He felt his foot slipping. Mark describes the great distress Jesus was in at this time and how He cried out to God to support him. Reading Psalm 94:18-19 in light of this, we can assume Jesus had a similar consoling experience because the bible says that, “For the joy set before him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame.” (Hebrews 12:2).

That joy was to see us get over that wall, to cross from darkness to light. Jesus dropped to his knees to give us a boost up into the waiting hands of our Father who would pull us from our sin and shame. The remarkable truth is that it is impossible for us to this for ourselves. Yet God himself had the strength and power to pull himself up and over the wall of sin and death -- and He did. (Acts 2:24).

‘And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.’ - Romans 8:11 (NIV)

The reality is we are going to slip up in life. We are going to lose our footing and feeling like we are slipping. If Jesus did, so will we. There is no shame in dropping to our knees when our Saviour did the same for us.

Don’t waste time walking into walls or falling in a heap of failure. You can be quick-witted and sure-footed, because it is Jesus who empowers you to smash this confidence course called life. And the good news is, "it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:5-7).

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”

your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

your consolation brought me joy.

Psalm 94:18-19 (NIV)


How has this passage spoken to you? Share in the comments below.



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