When my oldest was little she was a big fan of the army crawl.
First she rolled everywhere she needed to go, then she got determined enough to put elbows to carpet and chug along. Being a very new mom I had no idea this phenomenon existed. My husband and I would stand there cradling our mugs of some warm beverage and watch just for entertainment. She didn’t crawl in the traditional way for months. Who needs knees, when you can use your core and have abs of steel, right?
What struck me most in all this was her determination. She was undaunted.
She didn’t want help. She wanted freedom.
Freedom to roam.
Freedom to try and fail.
Freedom to use some grit.
Freedom to journey in her own way.
People have all kinds of opinions about how we should get to where we are going, don’t they? Our journey on Earth rarely looks like someone else’s but we all sure try to get there by someone else’s methods all the time.
Paul reminds the Galatians that they are Free with a capital F. Their freedom comes from God, not from man, not from manuals that tell them the “right way to do it,” not from generations of tradition, but from a God who loves, who forgives, who holds.
Paul proclaims to the Galatians in Galatians 5:7-8 –
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
Who cut in on you?
Whether it’s others or our own expectations, the “shoulds” of life, or persuasion from others, ideas of rightness – the freedom to fall flat on our faces and get up again comes from God and God alone.
He calls us to this life.
He calls us to walk, to run, or to crawl in this journey, and he calls all three of them Good in Christ.
Paul brings a little more insight and a little more wisdom in Galatians 5:16-18:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
“You were running, walking is good too,” Paul says, “but remember that all of it is done in the Spirit.” (Heidi’s paraphrase)
Why are we so convinced that we need to run, when God is telling us, “Go ahead and walk, sweet child”?
Why are we so convinced that we need to do it the right way, the non-existent and evasive only way, someone else’s way?
Whether these ideas are put on us by others or well up in our own hearts and minds to yoke us up, they aren’t from the One who called us, but Paul also tells us that the Spirit is alive and well.
Acts 17:27-28 is so reassuring I think we should post it on our foreheads for one another:
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
He is not far. He put Himself inside of us in His Holy Spirit. He lives there. He moves there. His desires begin to mesh with ours in a way that we can’t quite fathom. And when we mess up, when we yoke ourselves to those earthly desires, when we walk contrary, He doesn’t desert us. He doesn’t leave us on a whim. He watches us army crawl, and gently guides us away from the giant electrical sockets of life, sometimes letting us get that little jolt first, for useful teaching later.
I honestly think crawling is better. It gets us to that place of humility where Christ does His best work. The sting of pain, the consequences of failure, bring us before His feet, resting our burdens before Him, where they were intended to be anyway.
The freedom to crawl, to do life the imperfect way, sets our hearts on fire with grace and forgiveness in a way that propels us into a run, a sprint, a marathon, a good race in His love and His mercy in this abundant life.
So run, walk, crawl, or do it any other way knowing that the Spirit is alive, well, and active in your soul this day and every day.
Free in Christ!
What strange methods of crawling have you seen?
What places do crawling, walking, and running have in our faith walk?
When have you found God lifting you up in your journey to propel forward when you thought you were too tired, or you wanted to give up?