It’s just an open stairgate

We have two gorgeous grandchildren One a toddler, the other a newborn.

The toddler hasn’t been a toddler for very long. Until recently he was a frog on the floor, moving around in short spurts. Until recently he found the standing-up bit beyond him. Happy to hold a finger, but never brave enough to do it by himself.

Of course we all cheered his efforts, we all put things around him which encouraged that first time. The first time he stood for a few seconds, the time he took two faltering steps. The whole family united in helping this young man join the rest of us standers and walkers.

Mum and Dad were the most influential in all of this. But what has touched me is the absence – in all of us – of criticism, opinion, divergent theories, debate, finding the one true way, arguing over the true way of bringing the child to the upright position, promoting the true way of bringing this child to competent and correct walking technique.

And then I go to church. I read books by those who want me to walk with the lord.

Our wee toddler is now negotiating obstacles. We have a stairgate to restrict his wanderings. He can scoot up the stairs with style, but has yet to learn the way back down. And when the stairgate is open and he walks through it, then he has to work really hard at lifting one foot over a very small metal bar which forms its frame. We don’t understand. But we don’t have to. We just have to wait. He will figure it out for himself. He won’t give up.

And the lord reminded me of that this week.

Because we forget that our wee toddler has fallen over countless times just to get this far. When he can step over this very tiny obstacle with ease, we will forget how many times he faltered over that wee metal bar. We will forget that very small bar. We will forget that he never gave up.

And then I go to church. And struggle with the frame of my own open stairgate.

When an idea and suggestion – seemingly endorsed by others – falters and loses impetus. When it seems talking is preferred to doing. When debate is easier than action. What do I do? I sit down and have an internal tantrum. Give an internal growl with not “cracking it” first time. What is the point? Why do I bother? Should I stay or should I move on? And – as we all seem to do in church – I smile on the surface. But die a little inside.

So the lord brought these thoughts, pictures and frustrations together.

Context. Remember. Remember how many times you have fallen over to get this far. How those first faltering steps felt. Remember. Because this is just an open stairgate. A little metal bar and my faltering foot. That’s all. Have another go. Encouragement. Never give up. There will be bigger steps to master. Because I am with you. In every attempt. In each just try “one more time”. I won’t tell you. But I will be with you.

There will always be new steps, new obstacles. Never give up. Because I love you.


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