Raise your hand if you have been to a Chuck E Cheese.
Raise your hand if, after skeeball of course, you went into the Ticket Blaster.
A pro would know to step into that cylinder with your shirt tucked in and your hair pulled back in a ponytail so you’re ready to grab everything you can.
Because just like that, a tornado whips around you sending tickets in a swirly mess. Since the booth is transparent, from the outside it becomes instant entertainment for anyone who chooses to stop and watch you. From the inside, your goal is to grab as many tickets as you can so you can cash in for the grand prize of a stale tootsie roll and maybe even a glittery pencil. Every ticket was one more opportunity to earn a bigger prize. Your eyes are darting up, down, left, right trying to catch any and every ticket you can. It’s frantic and loud and messy but fun.
Life is feeling like a ticket blaster these days – for good and for bad.
Like this past weekend, all 5 kids were home. We packed 48 hours celebrating Bean’s birthday with Cheeze-It Chicken and duckpin bowling and ice cream at The Charmery, with basketball games (for Lily and even Jason – which is a fantastic story for another time). All good things, right? And I found myself trying to lock in on each kid and my husband to capture and hold their faces, the way they were getting along (because they were actually getting along), the smell of the bowling alley, the creaminess of the surprisingly amazing vegan ice cream… all of it. I wanted to capture and hold all of it, both hands.
On the flip side, I’m aware of friends and family awaiting test results, going into surgery, watching a tumor, witnessing the passing of a beloved Uncle and I find my self praying, yet frantic to capture and hold all of it, both hands.
If I haven’t said it before here, I’ll say it now; it is tough being a human being. And I am forever grateful for my therapy. It just helps me be a better human.
I had never considered God as a therapist until I read this interaction He had with Elijah.
We’re going to read through a bit of a “Ticket Blaster” situation Elijah finds himself in and then how God moves with him through it.
Elijah is a model of obedience and focus and endurance when it comes to a relationship with God. And near the end of his assignment, Elijah starts tripping on his own feet grabbing at whatever he can. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is running away from Jezebel (with good reason since she’s threatening to kill him). Elijah is afraid, he’s tired, he’s done. “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers.” He wanted to die. The story continues, “Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, “Get up and eat.” Then he looked, and there at his head was a loaf of bread baked over hot stones and a jug of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord returned for a second time and touched hm. He said, ‘Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you. So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked forty days and forty night to Horeb, the mountain of God. He entered a cave there and spent the night.”
Suddenly, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “what are you doing here Elijah?” He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Armies, but the Israelites have abandoned your covenant, torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my ife.”
Then He (being God) said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Let’s notice what just happened. God just pulled a Jamie here. Jamie is my therapist. If and when I’m overwhelmed, a practice Jamie walks me through is “Grounding.”
This technique engages all five senses with these prompts:
- search for 5 things they can see
- search for 4 things they can touch
- search for 3 things they can hear
- search for 2 things they can smell
- search for 1 thing they can taste
Now do you see how God pulled a therapist move here with Elijah? God asks his faithful servant a question. But, Elijah is too overwhelmed to answer. So, God walks him through some Grounding. He sends wind Elijah can see, an earthquake he can hear, a fire he can feel and smell and then a whisper.
At the end of the experience, God repeats the question. It’s important to notice, the circumstance hasn’t changed. So what’s different?
Elijah answers with the same words but I bet the tone is different. He’s grounded. He’s more aware. And he knows God is with him.
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
Again, notice Elijah’s answer is the same.
But, now that they’ve taken a breath together, God recognizes Elijah is ready to move. And Elijah recognizes he’s ready to move.
There’s a lot of power in the “here,” as in where you are this very moment.
There’s a lot of power in knowing and being aware.
I love that God uses the gifts He’s given us- our senses- to pull us back to our senses.
It’s more than a realization of the details. Grounding pulls all of you in the moment you’re in. It shows me how much God values every bit of me that He would invite me into the good and the bad with all of me to remember He’s in it with me.
Remember how we talked about stacking stones as a practice to remind you where you were? Let Grounding be a practice to establish where you are right now. The past should be remembered but don’t stay there too long. And forget the future – I don’t know about you but the future can look a little too wacky with my imagination.
God made me with more than just two hands. Life is not a Ticket Blaster. God gave you and me our senses, therapists and Grounding to realize His presence in our present. Let’s cash in on that prize today.