“Don’t step on the lava!”
It’s a chorus of young and old watching little bare feet hop, skip, and jump from pillow to pillow, over and under chairs.
My youngest grandson just turned four. His genius mom, with her creative birthday party juices, has done it again. Complete with lava cake and a “real” volcano that erupts, it is like an oxymoron lava-heaven.
The TV screen backdrop shows a volcano with red lava flowing. Background music plays, “the floor is lava, the floor is lava!” Kids line up, aka push, shove and wiggle, for their turn at challenging the path through the pretend fires.
Young feet balance on a wooden plank, careful to place one in front of the other, without slipping off the edge. As if birds ready to fly, little arms spread wide for extra balance.
“Oh no, his toes are burnt!” shouts one of the little boys, pointing like an official calling foul.
And my son scoops up the boy, toes and all into the air, blowing out the imaginary flames, saving him from a terrible lava fate. Then, he sets him down again to finish his balancing act.
One by one, little boys slither and climb over an obstacle course of imagination, shouting, scooting and jumping, all the time trying to keep their feet from touching the floor. Because of course, the floor is lava.
Life is a bit like a lava flowing obstacle course.
We slip and slide, go under and over, and all the time strive for a balance which prevents us from falling into the lava.
Our balance is thrown off by all sorts of things in our path:
- health concerns
- financial decisions
- relational upheavals
- job changes
- a move
- life status
- and the list goes on and on. In the heat of life, we are bound to get our feet burnt sometimes. We teeter, with the weight of our hearts, as if on a balance bar. We steady ourselves with one step ahead of the other, trying to figure out how to manage it all.
This morning I read a familiar verse which reminded me of the lava game.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV
Jesus calls this verse the “greatest and first commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
In Scripture, the heart means much more than a physical organ. It comprises the central core of our soul and mind. It includes our passions, affections, purposes, will and character. “Might” indicates strength and ability.
In Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27, Jesus includes the “mind” when he repeats the Old Testament verse. That pretty much does it.
God wants all of us. It seems almost unbalanced.
Yet, when God directs each of our steps, one and then another, we find balance in every other aspect of life. We are never more sure footed than when we walk in Him. Nor are we ever more balanced than when we love Him first and foremost. He is our balance.
A narrow windy country road from town arrives at our house. At night it is dark and deer populated. A few nights ago I came home from a church function in pouring rain after dark. An oncoming car suddenly came around one of the tight mountain curves. He didn’t bother to dim his lights. The sleek wet pavement mirrored the bright headlights making it difficult to see the edge of the road.
“Did you look off to the side or at the lights?” my husband asked when I told him about it later. He knew what held my eyes and where they gazed mattered as to the direction my car steered…or didn’t.
We seek balance. To find it, we try all sorts of methods, books, and philosophies. And sometimes, we get our eyes onto something blinding, something that makes us swerve off course or dip into the lava of the world. Wholly man and wholly God, Jesus, the only Person who ever lived a perfectly balanced life, tells us to love Him 100%.
He places our spiritual commitment and walk seemingly out of proportion making it top all other priorities. He wants whole hearted allegiance.
- all your heart
- all your soul
- all your mind
- all your might
Jesus wants us to walk with the intensity of a child but the steadfast tenacity of maturity.
My son holds out his hand to the youngest of the boys. The child holds on at the crest of the couch before he plunges, maybe two feet, to the trampoline at its base. All the while my son’s got him. Balanced and safe. The lava will not touch him.
The memory brings a smile.
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” Isaiah 41:13 ESV
When life puts me out of kilter, He holds my hand. He will balance me.
When life begins to overwhelm me, I feel like tidal waves are washing over me and trying to sweep me away into the abyss. As the rip currents try to pull me under, I suppose the pull of a lava flow would be much the same. How wonderful it is to know that we only need to reach out our hand and He will grab us and bring us safely home. What wonderful imagery you’ve painted with your words this week Ms. Sylvia. Thank you sweet friend.
J.D. I love the way you phrased that. “I feel like tidal waves are washing over me and trying to sweep me away into the abyss.” What a wonderful truth that Jesus does grab us. We are brought to safety. It is such a great comfort, isn’t it!! Thanks for weighing in. I love your insight and encouragement.
I just love God’s right hand and outstretched arm. His hand always gives me comfort because he doesn’t let go. Thank you for posting!
I know Brenda! That picture of His outstretched arm is so powerful. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks friend!
Great Isaiah verse! Just what I needed today. Good article too! 🤗
Thanks Marcy. I’m so glad it met a need. I love that Isaiah verse too.
Thanks Sylvia! Recently I have struggled with balancing needs etc. Thanks for helping me refocus!!!! I don’t always comment but so appreciate you and the articles!
Jane, thank you so very much!! Love hearing from you. Balance is definitely something that is forever changing and an unending learning curve. Thanks so much for reading and responding!
Syliva, what a great lesson from a child’s party. But isn’t that how God is? Jesus taught His Father’s truths from everyday life. Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks Barbara! I am so grateful God does continue to teach us, hoping to really learn!! Thanks so much for reading and taking time to respond.
Nancy E. Head
A wonderful word picture, Sylvia. We all feel like we’re in the crosshairs of the lava flow from time to time. Our sovereign God is there for us. Thanks and God bless!
Thanks Nancy. Such a marvelous thing that God is Sovereign over all the lava!