Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY
I have a confession to make. I can’t skate. Despite growing up in Western New York where playing hockey seems to be a childhood rite of passage and where backyard rinks still abound, I never learned to do it. And it was never an issue, until my girls received ice skates for Christmas.
What you have to understand is that I have convinced my daughters that I can do everything and that I can fix anything. They believe in me and have never had to wonder why I couldn’t perform a task. I’ve been able to demonstrate and teach. I’ve led the way and helped them discover their talents and gifts.
About a month ago we went to the ice rink in East Aurora. My plan was to offer to watch my son, John, while Kate blissfully skated around the rink with Molly and Delaney. Unfortunately, Kate said that two parents were required on the ice and brought me skates (fun fact: my wife doesn’t know I can’t skate). Once I put the skates on I could barely walk on the floor let alone skate on ice. But it all worked out!
I immediately discovered that if I held both of my daughter’s hands and put her in front of me that she could serve as a real life “walker.” Like an aged person making their way through the halls of a skilled nursing facility, I made laps around the rink holding onto Delaney’s hands. And the best part is, people thought I was helping her! They had no idea that she was literally holding me up.
I think there are times in life when we find ourselves in situations like that. We pretend to know more than we do. We fake it. We find a crutch that enables us to just get by. We use whatever we can to protect the image of ourselves we’ve projected to the world around us. But here’s the problem… if this becomes the pattern of our life, we’ll never really learn to skate.
I fear that many people approach their faith the way I approach skating – that many people walk into a sanctuary the way I step onto the rink. We find our crutch, our pew, our hymnal, our go-to Bible verse, our friend or pastor, and we allow that to hold us up. We project an image of discipleship that masks the reality that we need to grow. Now, to be clear, those crutches are nice. They hold us up. They keep us from pain and embarrassment. However, true growth, learning and development happen only when we let go and dive in. (This also applies at home, at work, at school, and in the world.)
My prayer for you is that just once this week you can let go of the crutch and step boldly on the ice. Read the Bible. Start to pray more. Talk about faith with someone you normally wouldn’t. If you don’t have a church, visit one. If you have a church, invite someone to it. Start to journal about your faith and what you want from life. Commit in a big way to serving others. Volunteer in a neighborhood that isn’t your own. Volunteer in your own neighborhood. Be honest about your weakness and vulnerability and in that honesty find Christ present strengthening and encouraging you.
May you find yourself skating through life not the way I skated that rink in East Aurora, nervously holding my daughter’s hands, but rather, boldly and courageously as you hold onto these words:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Cor. 12:9-10
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In the Way,
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.