Recently, as I was changing my grandson’s “Pull-Up” diaper, I was reminded of doing pull-ups when I was bit younger.  I remember practicing them for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award.  I remember a screaming drill sergeant in the Air Force demanding that I do more.  I was pretty good at pull-ups back in the day, completing anywhere from 20-30 without stopping.  Later in life, pull-ups became more of a challenge.  I guess if those muscles aren’t exercised on a regular basis they tend to forget how it’s done.  A few years ago, I was at the gym and I noticed a contraption I had never seen before, it was a pull-up bar with a place to rest your feet so you weren’t totally hanging by your arms.  What a great invention for us aging folks who still want to give pull-ups a try!  You can even adjust the foot rest to assist you in pulling-up.  Actually, with this thing you barely have to use any strength at all.  It was really great because suddenly I was able to do 30 pull-ups in a row just like in the good old days.  And yet, it also felt like cheating.

To put this in a faith perspective, sometimes I just can’t pull myself up.  Sometimes I need help.  Throughout my life there have been numerous times when someone stepped in to serve as a “foot rest” to lift me up.  I’ve experienced it after someone close to me has died.  I’ve experienced it when I was sick.  I’ve experienced it when things just got downright hard.  Pulling ourselves up can at times feel so overwhelming, and it’s such a blessing when a friend steps in to spot you and give you that extra little boost.

Another friend we can turn to is Jesus.  We hear of him doing this type of thing over and over again in the Gospels.  He lifts up the lame, he lifts up the blind, he lifts up the poor, he lifts up the grieving, and he lifts up the sick.  We have a hymn about this.  It’s not my favorite, maybe because in Grandma’s church it seemed like we sang it every other week.  And we sang it so slow!  I still remember Grandma smiling out loud every time those words left her mouth: Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  I could see it all over her face – she believed that to her very core.  Christ was her foot-rest, her pull-up assistant.  Hopefully this faith-understanding rests in our core as well.  We don’t always have to pull ourselves up, sometimes we simply can’t.  But there’s help out there.  Help from one another and help from that friend we call Savior.  It’s not cheating, it’s receiving grace.

Pastor Derek