Rebounding with Grace

Yesterday,  I wandered into the gym and slunk down into a plastic green picnic chair.  Exhausted from an emotional week, I scanned the piles of mats for my daughter.  It took me a while to spot her.  One, because all the kids look the same once you strap them into a leotard and ponytail.  And, two, because she was not where she was supposed to be.  While her teammates flipped, leapt, and spun on the springy blue mat; my daughter stood on the end of the balance beam performing one round-off rebound after another.  Her coach leaned against a wall, arms crossed, correcting every detail of every skill.

Over and over, Teagan approached the beam visibly talking to herself about what she needed to do.  Approaching the beam she scanned its length and then dug a light line with her fingernail to mark where she needed to start the movement.  Once on the beam she pointed her right toe, squeezed both arms tight around her ears, and took long deep breaths.  Her lips continued to move, giving only a hint to what might be going on in her head.  One step, round-off, rebound into a back tuck, land, tight stretched arms.  When they were good, the coach told her they were good; explaining why they were good.  When they were bad, the coach told her they were bad; telling her what and how to adjust.  Once, twice, and on and on this pattern repeated.

The only break came when Teagan scampered to the restroom.  Her coach looked over at me, “we’re kind of in trouble,” she said.  “We are having a hard time keeping our feet together on our round off on the floor, but we are fine on the beam, so she is going to do them on the beam until her body remembers how to do it on the floor.”

I think the coach, always aware of her hard-nosed reputation, felt concerned that I might be angry about Teagan’s “punishment.”  But the opposite was true.

I sat impressed with the opportunity before Teagan; the chance to have the undivided attention of the coach while she fought hard to get it right.  It was the perfect visual of the grace of God.

When the apostle Paul wrote about God’s grace, he described it as grace upon grace.  He said  that you cannot exhaust it.   God has an unlimited amount of second chances.  Paul also goes on to say that we should not take advantage of God’s grace, that it isn’t a license to do wrong but the power to get it right.

If I desire to experience the grace of God, I must also ask for accountability.  Grace without accountability is hypocrisy.

Every day I struggle with the same demons, the same faults, the same failures.  God is not weary of me, but working with me.  He stands by my side,  encouraging what is good and correcting with love the things that are not.  I would be foolish to despise his correction, to scorn his “punishments.”  It is a privilege to bask in His patience, to experience His enduring love, to find strength in His promise that He is not done with me.

One hundred.  That was the number of times my daughter had to round-off and rebound from the beam.  Her coach never left her alone; leaning against the wall she stayed until Teagan’s mind and body unified.   Then Teagan moved to the floor.  Still not perfect, but better.

I, too, will never be perfect.  But I am longing for better. “We are kind of in trouble,”  Teagan’s coach said.  The coach had done nothing wrong, but took full responsibility to get Teagan where she needed to be.  God, for no other reason but grace, will not leave me either but bears with me until the very end.  “We are kind of in trouble.”  But we are never without grace . . . only accountable to it.

. . . and in the end we are rewarded