I invented a game many years ago. I called it ‘Chin UP!’ I invented it for children two years and older but it could be played with younger children.
You see, back when I was a single Dad for a time I had two wiggly, easily distracted, little pre-school girls to get up, get dressed and ready to leave for the baby sitters before 7 o’clock every morning so I could go deliver mail. They were what district attorneys now days would call ‘uncooperative’ most mornings.
And so it was one cold, wintry, northern Minnesota morning I was trying to install two year Hannah into her snowsuit and she was busy waving her arms, looking out the window, talking and alternating between hopping and going limp.
When the heavy metal zipper was finally going up she picked that very moment to look down and that mean ol’ metal zipper caught her tender skin right underneath her chin. She cried and I felt like a horrible father. But life had to go on and after she calmed down we quickly left the house and drove on to the baby-sitter’s.
All day long as I drove between mailboxes on my mail route I pondered how to prevent the zipper incident from happening again. Finally an idea struck me. I needed to make it a game. That evening after eating a supper of what I told the girls was ‘my famous mish-mash!’, but was actually kind of a hamburger stew that I threw in anything and everything I thought they might eat I said I had surprise for them. We sat down and I explained to the very interested girls that I had invented a new game.
Hannah danced with delight but Sarah watched me with skeptical eyes. “What kind of game?” She asked. Sarah knew that sometimes I teased.
“It’s called, Chin Up!” I said with enthusiasm. And I lifted up my chin and looked at the ceiling while I stood very still.
“Chin up. Chin up.” Hannah chattered as she spun and danced about the living room.
“Okay, girls,” I said, “You watch Daddy and see what he does. When I say ‘Chin Up!’ you have to stop jumping and hopping and hold as still as you can, put your chin as high in the air as you can…”
“Like this?” Hannah interrupted me as she stuck her chin up in the air, hopping on what foot, spinning in a circle. “Chin up! Chin up!”
“Wait, Hannah!” I scolded, trying not to sound exasperated. “You have to stop jumping and hopping and hold still first. Then you put your chin up in the air as high as you can and you look right at Daddy. And you hold still, for as long as you can.”
Hannah paused and looked at me and then broke out in a grin and spun in a circle laughing. Sarah joined her and the two girls spun around and around until they laid down on the floor giggling and chattering, “Chin up!”
“Okay.” I said. “Let’s try Sarah first.” I picked up three year old Sarah and stood her in front of me, lifted her chin up as I said, ‘chin up!’ and said, “Look at me and hold still like that for as long as you can!”
As I worked with Sarah she soon got the idea and it wasn’t long before she could stand still, lift up her chin and look at me for several seconds before losing interest. But Hannah was getting anxious. “My turn, my turn!” she demanded.
“Okay, Hannah,” I said as I stood her in front of me. She couldn’t quite keep from hopping and spinning and waving her arms so I helped her by holding her arms down and putting my foot on top of her toes. “Hold still, remember?”
“YES!” Hannah nodded with determination.
“Okay! Hannah, Chin up!” I said and she lifted up her little chin and looked at me with a twinkle in her eye.”
“Yay! Hannah! You did it!” I exclaimed and started clapping. Sarah clapped too, and Hannah clapped for herself as she spun in yet another circle.
“Okay, Hannah one more time,” I said. “Chin up!” We practiced and practiced and then Sarah was too tired so we stopped. I hoped the game would work.
As I tucked the girls into bed for the night Hannah looked up at me with a smile and said, “Chin up, Dad!”
The next morning once again I struggled to get a spinning and dancing Hannah into her pants and pull a long sleeved t-shirt over her waving arms and I began to get frustrated. Finally the snowsuit was in place and all I had to do was pull the zipper. “Chin up, Hannah,” I said quietly.
“Chin up, Daddy.” Hannah repeated and she stopped moving, lifted her chin and watched me through sleepy eyes long enough for me to zip up her snowsuit.
“Good job, Hannah! I am so proud of you!” Hannah grinned and hopped away as Sarah came up to me in her snowsuit. “Chin up, Sarah.” I said.
Sarah stood silently with her chin up and her eyes watching me as I zipped up her snowsuit. “Did I do it right, Daddy?”
“Yes!” I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster for the cold, early morning. “I’m proud of you, too!”
“We did it, Hannah.” Sarah said to her little sister. “Chin up! Chin up! Chin up!” both girls chattered as we left the house and went out to the car.
After that for several more years of helping them get dressed, the ‘Chin Up!’ game was played. And it was passed down later to their little sister and brother.
And so it is that sometimes the Lord is trying to prepare us for what He has for us next in our lives. But we are easily distracted by the world, by our own desires or by just the fun we see going on around us. A worship service, or Bible study, or a Sunday School class is kind of like a “Chin Up!” with the Lord. We come into His presence and stand before Him. We lift up our eyes to Him and to His Word, and we hold still and listen for as long as we can and the Lord prepares us for what He has for us next in our lives. It’s good to “Chin Up!” with the Lord. If we hear Him asking us to “Chin UP!’ we should hold still, lift up our face and focus on Him and His Word for as long as we can.
Be still, and know that I am God! Psalms 46.10 NLT
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith… Hebrews 12.2 NLT
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11.6 NLT