Escalators are a handy invention. The motorized staircase moves its riders up or down a level with ease. At 3, I was drawn to the movement while playing with a friend in a department store. Our mothers chatted a few feet away from our game of Follow the Leader.
My friend sat down on the escalator’s steps. I followed.
She grinned with excitement about our adventure. I grinned too.
Her 5-years-old body stood up before the steel teeth of her step disappeared into the rotating mechanism.
My 3-years-old mind didn’t catch that.
The steel teeth shredded my pale-yellow dress and then they said gotcha to me. Eventually, I was freed and my mangled body healed. But the teeth marks remain decades later.
Deep injuries do that. They leave an impression. Because pain is a purposeful teacher.
It teaches us a lot about ourselves, our circumstances and other people. It can also teach us how to be bitter, fearful, vengeful or distant. But by God’s grace, wisdom can emerge from our injuries. Here’s what my playtime gone wrong taught me.
Know who you follow. You’ll end up at the same destination.
Whether we follow a person or a specific train of thought, we’re all headed somewhere — and the destination will greatly impact our existence. This principle has eternal significance. Christ is in heaven with God the Father, preparing a place for all those who follow Him. (John 14:1-3)
My relationship with Him filters all my other interactions. When I follow that filter I’m free to move forward in His plan. When I ignore His lead, I’m led to where I least want to go.
Know the rules of a game. Then you will know when to exit.
However, life is not a game; it is a gift. In some circles, it’s popular to be a rule breaker. Bending the rules seems slick or trendy. But bending God’s rules brings severe consequences. Without His principles to govern my life, I’m tempted to fall for a crooked reality. But He anticipates my weakness. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
He shows me a way of escape. At times, I’ve barely made it through His escape hatch. But He faithfully provides strength for me to take necessary exits and He sustains me when I fall.
Know when to ask for help. Eventually, we all need it.
In the clutches of the escalator that day, everyone in the store knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t imagine remaining silent. My cry for help immediately got my mother’s attention. It was hard to miss my pale-yellow dress turning bright red. My sisters came running to the rescue too.
As you look at your life, is something gnawing inside you? Past experiences and current dilemmas can point to our need to break free – particularly, when guilt, shame or pain becomes a way of life. If we don’t receive help, we remain at risk for a diminished existence.
The only thing that gripped me tighter than the escalator was the grace of God. Can you sense Him gripping you too?
Whether we need forgiveness of sin or healing in our circumstances, His rescues are complete. Sometimes our recovery is a process. While God alone is enough, sometimes He assigns others to walk beside us.
Several weeks after my recovery, my mom asked me if I was ready to ride down the scene of my pain. I nodded and she held my hand as we rode the escalator together. Now I’m way beyond those years and those stairs, but the lessons stay with me.
Because pain is a purposeful teacher when we want to be wise pupils.
The lessons learned light the way to avoiding the same mistakes and advancing us in the plan of God. It is the kind of instruction that brings hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Psalms 71:17 NLT