“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.
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.
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.