I heaved open the double doors to the aging gymnasium, grateful for a heated shelter from the snowy Saturday afternoon – and even more grateful for two hours of free roller-skating at the local gym to get the cabin-fever-winter-jiggles out of my three kids. 

We had been to the free skating twice before, so they knew the drill.  Coats off, hats off, shoes off, skates on.  I hunched over to help them click the straps of their skates firmly in place, and they were off. 

Sort of. 

As ‘off’ as one can be, with two left feet and four wheels on each. 

I smiled as they wobbled and lunged and arched and leaned and flailed their way around the perimeter of the room.  The space was small, and the wooden floor crowded, but the kids didn’t care.  They were skating, and they were having fun.

On previous occasions, I had skated with them, and inevitably, one (or more) of them would end up holding my hand (translation: pulling my arm out of my socket) as we glided along (translation: desperately tried not to fall). 

On this particular Saturday, however, I opted to sit on the sidelines. 

Big mistake.

Without my masterful skill and expertise to rely on, they were left to their own devices. 

Yep, you guessed it.  In no time, all three of them had joined hands.

Recipe for disaster.

I cringed in helpless dismay as I watched the precarious six-armed chain contort into all imaginable shapes and angles.  I may have squeezed my eyes shut once or twice. 

I definitely stopped counting the number of times they landed in a mangled heap, dropping like dominoes, one by one.  Too many times, the mound teetered on catastrophic proportions as innocent passersby joined their shenanigans by adding limbs and torsos to the pile.  

In those two hours of sideline agony, the obvious became clear:

We ought not lean on those who are bound to fall. 

This truth leads to its logical conclusion: In life, all of mankind is fallible.  No matter how hard we try, not a single one of us is perfect, nor will we ever be, in this life. 

Therefore, there is only one option:  We have no choice but to lean wholly on the One who will never fall, never fail, never forsake.

A few days after the skating catastrophe, I was going to visit my sister in the hospital.  As I approached the building in the bitter cold, an elderly couple was heading toward their car.  The gentleman relied heavily on a cane, while the silver-haired wife clasped his forearm and shuffled along beside his equally unsteady steps.  

If I had been closer to them in proximity, I would’ve rushed forward to stable them both, one with each of my arms.  Instead I held my breath, cringed inwardly and prayed that they would make it to the parking lot without a tumble. 

Though they had no other physical choice at the time, they were each relying on someone who was bound to take a spill, and drag the other down as well – just like my precarious roller-skating charges.

How often do we do that in life? 

We fumble our way around, finally realize that we need help, reach out an open, desperate palm, and clasp our fingers around the nearest hand willing to help us up.   We’re so grateful for the boost that we fail to see through our rose-colored glasses that the hand holding ours is just as desperate and in need as we are.

We put our trust in riches, in material goods, in the security of our jobs, in our health, in the affirmation of others. 

As the Psalmist writes, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalms 20:7).