Six seconds

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

My son Isaac is about to graduate from eighth grade. The other day he was scheduled to take a tour of the local high school. As he hopped out of the van I called after him, “Are you nervous?” He nodded, his face paler than usual. And then he turned, straightened his shoulders, and walked into the building.

It was a little moment that took all of six seconds. But it left me teary as I pulled out of the parking lot.

My boy was scared. He had to do something that he didn’t really want to do. But he did it anyway.

It seems like lately my life has been full of those six-second moments. Six seconds of really, really not wanting to do something. And then doing it anyway.

Six miserable seconds. Waiting for my cue to go on stage, sure I was going to forget my lines. Easing into the dentist’s chair. Being handed a laser tag gun and knowing I was going to be too inept and clumsy to use it. Stepping gingerly into a canoe, certain I would tip the boat and douse the two young girls in my charge.

You’ve felt them, haven’t you? Six long seconds of, “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this.”

But you do.

There is so much to be afraid of on the other side of those six seconds. Things could go wrong. You could get hurt. You might mess up, and someone might laugh at you. The other side of those six seconds is not safe.

You might not get the job. You might learn something about your health that you don’t want to hear. You might love someone and then lose them. You might strike out.

Six seconds of panic. Six seconds of doubt. Six seconds that almost make you turn back.

But you don’t.

You send your resume. You step into the waiting room. You love anyway. You swing the bat.

And then you are through to the other side, and you see how it turns out.

For the record, I didn’t tip the boat. I did get us stuck in some branches, but we got untangled eventually.

And I did mess up one of my lines, but I don’t think anybody minded.

I had to have a root canal. But I lived through it.

I was, in fact, inept and clumsy with the laser gun, but it was still tons of fun creeping around a dark old warehouse and shooting my kids.

It would be so easy to let fear of the unknown stop us. It would be so easy to listen to that voice, the one that hisses, “You can’t do this, you can’t do this, you can’t do this.”

But if we never did it, how would we know what was on the other side?

Sometimes God feels far away, and I need to make a change in my life to get closer to Him. Sometimes I am convicted about my actions and I know I need to fix them.

But the six-second rule pervades, and the chant begins: “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this.”

I can’t step toward God. I can’t talk to Him, not for real. I can’t give Him my time. I can’t trust that He is who He says He is.

I can’t stop doing that which I know is wrong, not when it makes me happy and is so cleverly disguised as right.

I can’t do it, I can’t do it.

As we fight for a true and strong and living relationship with our Creator, the nay-saying voice wants us to give up and give in.

We doubt. We fear. We want to walk away.

But we don’t.

We don’t walk away. Because on a warm night far away our Savior stood amid the twisting trunks of olive trees and prayed that his cup of suffering would be taken from Him. He knew what lay ahead, and he really, really didn’t want to go. He didn’t want to do it.

But He did.

And because He did, we can.

With glorious abandon we ignore the words that say we can’t and run toward the God who says that because of His Son, we can do all things.

We can cling to our God, full of unfathomable trust. We can cast off the sin that encumbers us, accepting that we will fail, knowing He will pick us up and face us in the right direction once again.

Those six seconds are still there. We are still susceptible to worries and insecurities and I can’t do its. But we know, through our fears, what’s on the other side.

On the other side there is Jesus.

Julie Riddle is the mother of three boisterous children and the wife of Pastor J. Derek Riddle of Peace Lutheran Church in Rogers City.