My favorite event in the Winter Olympics is the figure skating. I have always been amazed at how they can leap into the air so gracefully, balance so precisely, and spin so quickly that it makes you dizzy just to watch! I am happy if I can just skate forwards without falling over! As I watch these amazing athletes perform their routines, I am drawn to the similarities between the disciplines in skating and our faith.
As basic as it may seem compared to the astounding tricks they perform, skating backwards at such speeds amazes me! I enjoy ice-skating occasionally and to skate backwards even briefly requires my utmost concentration. And even then I go very slowly without moving very far. When I watch the figure skating routines with the athletes skating backwards so quickly before spinning or leaping into the air, I am amazed that they can skate so well without seeing where they are going!
“I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
Even while walking forwards in full light of day, there are times when we feel lost. We face moments where the path ahead doesn’t seem clear and we don’t know where to go next. But our loving God will never leave us to wander in the darkness. Even when we feel like we are going backwards and cannot see the path, we need only to call out to Him and He will guide us along the path that leads to salvation.
Figure skaters spin and twirl so quickly it is amazing that they do not get dizzy and stumble or fall. I read recently that skaters start off by focusing on one object, such as a scoreboard, as they spin until eventually they are used to it enough that it doesn’t seem to bother them.
“But my eyes are turned toward you, O God, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; do not leave me defenseless.” Psalm 141:8
Sometimes things in this world spin around us so quickly . Work presentations, school assignments, making dinner, cleaning house, driving the kids to ballet class, scheduling doctor appointments, paying bills, car repairs, home repairs, and the list goes on and on. If we focus on everything spinning around us, we are going to fall down. But if we keep our focus on one thing, then the rest of the spinning craziness doesn’t seem to bother us as much. If God is our focal point, then it doesn’t matter how much the world spins around us. Sure we may still get dizzy at times, but when we keep our eyes on God, He will keep us from falling down.
Not only do figure skaters spin on the ice, but they leap into the air spinning round and round before landing gracefully on one foot as they continue to glide. Sometimes they will perform several leaps or jumps in a row. They have practiced these routines extensively and must trust that they will land. If they panic mid air, they will surely fall.
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:29-31
Peter was not gliding on ice, but walking on water! In the midst of this he became afraid and began to sink. In life we all have moments of doubt. We all have times when we just don’t understand God’s plan. We cannot foresee the outcome and so we panic. We are mid-air spinning wildly and suddenly we are afraid that it just might not work out. And in that moment, we begin to fall. Thankfully, even when we doubt, God is there to pick us up again and rescue us from harm.
Despite the intense training, even the most experienced skaters will fall from time to time. But when they do, they get back up, put a smile on their face, and continue the routine. They may know in their hearts that their dreams of a gold medal have just been dashed. They might be disappointed or hurt. But they keep going.
In Luke 18 Jesus tells us about the “need to pray always and not to lose heart.” (Lk 18:1) As Christians we are called to remain confident in the love of the Lord. We know that He will never abandon us and we know that He hears our prayers. We must never lose heart even when we fall down. We must continue to pray and trust in God, pick ourselves up, and continue on smiling because we are filled with the joy that comes from Christ alone.
This winter as we watch Olympians leap through the air, spinning, gliding, and skating their way to gold, let us remember to apply these figure skating lessons to our faith. To trust in God even when we can’t see the path ahead of us. To keep our eyes focused on Him despite the spinning chaos that surrounds us. To take a leap of faith knowing that our Lord will be there to catch us and keep us from falling. And to pray always without losing heart. Even when we fall down and get discouraged, God will never forsake us.*all images from Wikipedia