One Leap at a Time
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”
It isn’t unprecedented that God uses the grasshopper to teach a lesson, right? (Think plague in Egypt!) I was on retreat recently, in the desert near Mesa, Idaho and it appeared to be grasshopper season. I appreciate that grasshoppers are creatures of God, but I can’t figure out why God made so many. A few would have been fine. But, on this retreat, there were hordes of grasshoppers—almost a plague.
As I hiked along, the grasshoppers would leap high, achieving an impressive bit of air. I noticed a curious thing when they landed, however. They didn’t always land on their feet (do they even have feet?) They would land on their sides then do an extra hop, or adjustment, to get back to starting position. Sometimes, they landed fine, but just as often, they had to do the little correction hop to get upright.
I pondered this and tried to squeeze a little lesson out of it. What I realized was this:
We all have to leap in our lives, but sometimes we land catawampus and have to adjust. Early in the pandemic, remember, they told us not to wear masks. That was a bit of a leap, wasn’t it? Then, not long after, they made a correction—wear masks! The correction is even more important to pay attention to than the original leap. It sets us aright, gets us back into a better position. The more we learn, and adjust, the better off we’ll be.
We’re starting school this week. It’s a huge leap high into the air. If we land catawampus we will have to adjust and right ourselves again. As difficult as leaping seems, we need to leap. We can’t always sit and do nothing. Grasshoppers that don’t hurl themselves into the air when they sense danger may end up squished by a tire, trekker pole or foot. I won’t even tell you what happens to them after that—it’s too disturbing for a devotional, but, suffice to say, it’s better to take a leap of faith!
Whenever the overall picture of a situation seems just too hard to try and figure out, I like to pray with a labyrinth. If you’ve never prayed with a labyrinth, it is praying through a complex series of twists and turns to reach the very center of the maze, the rosette. It is a prayer of faith, simply taking the very next step. Reaching the center can seem impossible if you anticipate the whole journey with all its twists and turns. But, by taking just one, very obvious, next step at a time, the center is easily reached. One step at a time seems much more do-able than figuring out the whole journey. One step at a time, one leap at a time, one day at a time. A teacher friend of mine showed me a poster she is putting up in her room. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Taking a difficult journey in smaller, more manageable, steps can make it less foreboding.
Thanks to the grasshoppers and labyrinth I feel a tiny bit more prepared to tackle this school year. As I leap into learning online techniques and programs, I know I may need to adjust all the way along. I can do that! I need to be nimble and flexible to hurl myself in with vigor, but also recognize when an adjustment is needed. And I must remember that I don’t have to have the whole school year figured out. All I really need to see is the very next step, which is today. While I can anticipate future needs and prepare for future endeavors, I really just need to focus on today.
Gracious God, who created (many) grasshoppers as well as this complex labyrinth of life:
Thank you for giving us what we need to navigate it. We trust that you are always with us, cheering us on, giving us ideas and support along the way. We ask your continued blessing on all who are involved in teaching students, however it is being done, through this pandemic. We are leaping high into the air and we don’t know where or how we will land, but we trust you will help us adjust and correct as we need. Please and thank you!