Back in Middle School, I can remember the anticipation, the longing, the yearning for a rite of passage that took place in our school… Elementary kids couldn’t do it, but once you reached the high maturity level of a middle schooler, you were allowed to attend the monthly school ‘Skating Party!’
I still remember that first time I was allowed to finally go to ‘the rink’ on a Tuesday night. My parents dropped off a backseat full of boys and we scampered inside. As my eyes acclimated to the dim, foggy lighting, I saw for the first time a brand new world of carpeted walls and highly waxed floors. Music was blaring from a DJ hidden in a booth who knows where. All sorts of wild and wonderful sounds and lights were randomly binging and flashing from the game room where Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Space Invaders all waited to swallow my quarters. Tables and chairs were scattered about and people were eating all sorts of forbidden foods like soft pretzels, nachos, and sugar-laced candy! I knew that I would need to pace myself… It was a school night for heaven’s sake!
I went to the counter and exchanged my ticket for a pair of boots with what felt like 20lb orange wheels attached, and 30-foot-long laces! By the end of the night I would realize that, in addition to the price of admission, blisters and sore ankles were part of the cost of an evening of roller skating happiness.
After lacing up and putting all my treasured possessions in a little square locker, I ventured out onto the floor. I realized quickly that roller skating is a learned skill, and I had not had much education in the art of the skate. My friends took off, leaving me hugging the wall and pondering which looked more lame, to inch along the edge, or to fall down every few strides. I opted for falling down. As I got my wheels under me (as they say), I can only describe my skating as very heavy walking with a little roll after each step. I skated awhile, and then, as the glow of middle school sweat began beading on my brow, I swung over to the arcade and put my quarter on the Space Invaders machine – I was next up! After shooting a few aliens, I headed back to stomping and rolling around the rink.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself, until an unexpected, mystical moment. The mature high school students in striped shirts who could skate backwards (and strangely enough, somehow seemed bored), blew their whistles and ushered everyone off the floor. As we exited, the lights shifted to blue and the announcer uttered words I had never heard before: It was time for the “Moonlight Skate.”
I found out that the moonlight skate is the couples’ skate. A romantic song is played, the lights are dimmed and blueish, and couples hold hands and skate – while all the losers sit around and watch! Currently unencumbered by a relationship as a slightly sweaty 7th grader whose voice was starting to change, I joined the loser hoard that night. But I secretly desired to have someone to ‘moonlight skate’ with.
I began attending the skating parties regularly, and, in addition to discussing who had the high score on Donkey Kong and Frogger, the talk among us guys was always about who we might ask to moonlight skate with us. We’d even run interference for each other – boys talking to other boys who would talk to groups of girls who would find out if there was any interest…
I don’t remember how many months it took, but one magical night I got up the nerve to ask a very special someone to skate with me at the moonlight skate, and she said yes. I use the term, ‘very special someone’ only because I have no idea what her name was. But I felt pretty special stepping away from the mass of losers into the center oval, if even for a few minutes. I’m sure my mediocre skating and moist palms all made quite an impression on that 7th grade girl! But it really didn’t turn into much of a relationship. It didn’t blossom into anything beyond a 4-lap stomp & roll around the rink in the ‘moonlight’ that night. My desires were more to look cool in front of my friends than to develop a relationship with a a lovely girl. For a relationship to develop, there would need to be more…more investment, more care for the other person, a desire to get to know her. As it was, it was just a few minutes of moonlight bliss.
Have you ever treated God like a moonlight skate partner? You know, just a whirl or two around the rink of life, but without really developing much of a relationship…? Maybe you’re just showing up at church every so often, wanting the blessing, thinking you’ll impress God or the people around you. But that’s not what following God is all about! God wants to be more than your moonlight skate partner – He wants to be your everything!
It’s not easy… It takes commitment and sacrifice, dedication and growth. It means that your relationship with Him is more important than anything in your life! You spend time together, you learn and grow, you let Him change you, develop His character in you. A relationship with God isn’t just a whirl around the rink every once in awhile and then you go back to whatever you want to do. It’s a life-long commitment.
It’s all over the Bible…
Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
Philippians 3:8a “Everything else is worthless when compared to the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”
‘Moonlight Skates’ are great, in Middle School. But your relationship with God takes everything you’ve got. Are you ready to go all-in with Jesus?