Isabella went from wobbling like a Weeble to running like an Olympian in what seemed like days.
Funny thing is she walks—even runs—on her tiptoes.
She isn’t terribly stable and she falls fairly often, but she bounces back up and immediately starts bounding like a gazelle on the tips of her tiny feet.
I had the joy of watching her a few days ago at her birthday party. Bounding around my son’s condo like a ballerina on point. We actually had to hem her in with a corral constructed from the sectional.
You see, she is anxious to explore. Anticipation and discovery are the theme of her existence. Everything is new and novel.
I found myself really envying that approach to life.
With her newly developed abilities, life is an adventure. For a year now she has been dependent on someone else to get her from point A to point B. Not anymore! This new freedom she is experiencing has unleashed her inner Indiana Jones.
She is wonderstruck by each new place she goes and thunderstruck by each new thing she finds.
What a way to live!
Watching her forced me to ask myself, “Why do I live so flat-footed?” Whatever happened to my standing-on-tiptoe, running with abandon, out-of-breath excitement?
The answer is simple: life.
I have lived long enough to make my share of terrible mistakes. I have been around the block enough times to run into a myriad of cul de sacs. I have chased far too many rabbits down far too many trails only to wind up in far too many briar patches.
Life has many ways of draining expectation and neutering hope.
- Disappointment poisons the dreams of life that are the fountain of hope.
- Defeats crush the opportunities in life that are the expressions of hope.
- Dead ends stifle the purpose of life that is the substance of hope.
- Dullness numbs the vitality of life that is the energy of hope.
All these common experiences of life on the blue planet tend to knock all of us back on our heels. Then we lose the keen edge of life lived in hope.
It is the de-anticipating of life.
The enemy of our souls wants to empty life of the expectation that gives meaning to the mundane and significance to the struggle. He is dead set on the “steal, kill, destroy” triumvirate that sucks the life out of living.
Yet I know this to be true:
…life was never intended to be lived defensively back on your heels.
It was meant to be experienced on tiptoe.
- Wide awake wonder.
- Wide ranging gratitude.
- Wide open expectation.
- Wide-eyed surprise.
Jesus called it “life more abundant”. John said it is life lived “in perfect love without fear”. Peter describes it as living “with an inexpressible and glorious joy”. Paul simply called it “life that is truly life!”
Life as it should be. Life as it will be. Life as it can be!
I’m not pretending this sort of life is easy. We aren’t tiptoeing through tulips.
Life is hard.
James makes it clear that pursuing Jesus is no picnic. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
Pain hurts us. Frustrations hassle us. Boredom haunts us. Disillusionment hamstrings us. Failure humiliates us.
Life as it is seldom gives us a vision of life as it can be.
But life is meant to be alive…rich with discoveries until the day we die!
One of my great joys is being around my two friends, John and Jack, who in their 80’s vibrate with the energy that comes from always wondering, “What’s next!?” After 8 decades of real life, they are still running on tiptoe…just like Isabella!
Maybe that is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
I love Habakkuk’s picture of this fleet-footed chasing of our adventurous God, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19)
So in honor of the parable I saw as Isabella bounced across the floor, I want to radically adjust my approach to life.
I want my baby back, baby back, baby back!
That inner child who dreams and dances and wears himself out in the pursuit of wonder, and is always…
…running on tiptoe!