Utterly Helpless…

Nashville had changed clothing. A winter delight of fresh snow had fallen canceling all “have-to” jobs and calendar events for the “instead of” adventures of snow-bound wanna-be survivors. Delighted to experience even a few inches of wonderland, sparks of adventure synapsed alongside the streets as previous bystanders of life were transforming their trashcan lids into sleds and with their imaginations, morphing the hills of the Agricultural Center into destined slopes! ☺ I, on the other hand, was endeavoring to catch a ride from some daring Southwest pilot to head to a conference in Chicago. There was much that happened while there, but before I lose one small treasure somewhere in all my memories, I thought I’d share it with you.

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping.’ Your love, O LORD, supported me.” (Psa. 94:18)

Place: My brother’s 2nd story apt. stairway
Where: Chicago, IL.
Weather: Cold enough for ice, but not…for the moment…snowing.
With: My sister Jennifer, my heavy suitcase I named Hefty, my delicately soft scarf that looks more like a tattered blanket scrap of warmed hues of green, and my imposter snow boots.
Time: Irrelevant…but I could see.
Why: Because God had a lesson to teach me.

The landscape of this story is really irrelevant, the foreground takes over. My face was close to the camera lens of this memory as I tried to get my large suitcase, my purse, my paper (what was I thinking?) bag of newly owned books from the conference down the 2 flights of wooden and patched with ice stairs to the garage. Of course, all of this needed to be done at once. Jennifer followed close and cautiously behind me, but was deterred for a moment while locking the patio door. After turning to go down another flight, I stepped onto a stair and pulled a fourth of the suitcase with me. It was then that I realized that I had no traction under my left foot. The suitcase loomed another fourth of it’s weight on me as my brain quickly switched into second gear depending on my right foot. Unfortunately my plan B was just as unsecure. I don’t remember many times when I have had NO traction, but this was one of the most disconcerting feelings! Not only that, but I didn’t really have my hands…I began to summize how I might fall with the least detriment to my body and found I had no option of how to do so. My feet were both slipping to their respective corners of the stairs, but I was still trying to stand without their help! Balance of emotion, posture, and equaling strength…holding the suitcase, my own body, the things in my left hand and trying to not let the paper bag touch anything wet…it was literally causing an emergency light to resound in my psyche. Not to mention that everytime I looked down I was reminded that the ground was still far below me. There was no way out. I told my sister, but she seemed distant. She was coming cautiously and slower than I reasoned my resolve could hold out for. I was going to fall….there was no stopping me.

Innermost FEELINGS: I experienced for a rare sheer moment what it felt like to be utterly helpless. I was incredibly scared because I had no control – my mind worked, but what my mind told my body wasn’t helping…therefore what held my mind above ground and in conciousness was in seeming grave danger. Everything seemed extreme and all at once I had lost the security that I had expected and taken for granted. I was in the act of slipping – couldn’t reason myself out, couldn’t start over, couldn’t stop the inevitable by anything that I could do….It was all dependent on someone much more in control than I. No one appeared to realize the gravity of the momment…even though I had humbled myself to ask for help which is something I rarely do unless I’ve declared it a state of emergency. Not only that but I was being pushed deeper than I could literally handle by the suitcase which was threatening by my every movement to topple and take me with it. Falling seemed inevitable. Still I tried…still I was slipping. Still I tettered from Plan A to Plan B hoping that a Plan C would surface, but the waters of my creativity were more than murky. Fear had dehibilitated me and I knew that I needed something outside of my control. While all the while, my life hung in the balance…or at least that’s how I felt. THIS WAS AN EMERGENCY!! It I could have yelled without upsetting that balance even more I would have done so….but I couldn’t. The verdict was out…”I was failing and about to fall and I couldn’t figure a way of control!” I was utterly helpless and knew it, I was holding on by a thread to the hope of a way of escape…and in my deepest gut I knew it wouldn’t come from me or any effort I could conjure, any wisdom I could summize, any resolve I could muster to continue trying. I wasn’t enough.

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping.’ Your love, O LORD, supported me.” (Psa. 94:18)

THOUGHTS: I don’t think that this verse is just a verse of the LORD holding my arm and giving my feet a firm place to stand BECAUSE He loves me. Would it be His right hand holding me as a Father would grab a child’s arm alone to keep him from falling? No, I don’t think the fullness of what He’s talking about can be summized as something God did out of love…but rather in love Himself He carried it out. Our imaginations must be stretched thin and then there’s ‘countries’ of depth to still cross over. Your love…GOD IS LOVE…it’s more than just an expression of Him…it’s His entire being. Like a ray of light is unable to sit, our God and King rests unable to not be fully there in loving through any of his shimmers of movement. Can I just say, He loved us just as much – the bright inconclusive inexpressible love alludes and allures us towards more from His being – just as much on His day of rest from creating creation as the day that He created man or the day He created Eve out of man. It would seem that on the 7th day He wasn’t actively loving, but He never ceased from being who He was!
Supported me…Isn’t a picture of rescue only…although rescue may have initiated the first touch. Someone pulling me up is not the total act of being supported. Instead of someone keeping me from falling, I picture instead the act of being held. The one being supported can either rest and snuggle or fight and try to get out and control his own surroundings like a child trying to struggle free from the caress of his parents protection.
But there’s one other point….The psalmist took time to show us that it was in the active tense of realizing He was slipping – WHILE he was slipping – that he found Himself supported. Was it after the fact that he realized he had been supported even though he felt he was desperately helpless? Was it during it that He calmed Himself with the reality of the support of His love having no holes in it’s protection or provision. Was it during it or after it that He remembered the goodness of the LORD? His shepherd was never absent. More profound is this…God’s love enveloped Him and was therefore never absent either because God was with him! Maybe the question is not about when the psalmist realized he was held, but rather the invitation we have to immediately see a reality that we can’t fathom in our minds eye…right now. Whether it’s easy for me to picture being supported or if I feel, like the psalmist at many ti
mes did, that He is distant, the fact of His omnipresence remains. It’s in the moment of feeling desperately helpless that we find little option other than to rest. It’s somehow easier than when we think we have it all together. But in those moments that we feel strong and spiked with independent cruelty to His overwhelming love…in those moments He hasn’t changed who He is either….He’s taking the beating as we struggle to break out of the freedom He offers us into the phasod of our independent security. Oh, if we were to “see” clearly who’s in control! TRUTH: We are undeniably without ability to stand on the slippery shroud of self-confidence…and stay standing.

Something like giving into the snow and letting it take you on a ride, I guess. Maybe (like giving into the snow and letting it take you for the ride of your life) it would be better to fall…then we would know what we were putting our confidence in was faulty security and counterfeit comfort, peace, and strength. Yet we wouldn’t fall far before realizing we’d hit the Rock Bottom reality…His Love.

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping.’ Your love, O LORD, supported me.” (Psa. 94:18)