Devotion – Holding Our Father’s Hand
By TJ Wierenga
“They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.” Jeremiah 31:9
Requiring our children to hold our hand in a parking lot or crossing the street… holding their hand when they are frightened… holding their hand in a store to keep them from “sinning”…think about all the times we reach for our child’s hand.
Chasing and catching a resistant child’s hand is not the most effective way to secure that connection, is it? Kids can wriggle and thrash and hide their hands from us, and pull against us rather than moving forward. If they don’t want their hand held, they will sometimes flop on the ground with all of their 25 or 30 pounds of weight acting in resistance to our guidance. No matter what our adult reasoning is for the hand-holding, a child’s naturally stubborn nature will set itself against us for no apparent reason – the term “child’s logic” is an oxymoron; they are not yet capable of logic. Children do what they want to do and rebel against our direction because it is in a child’s nature to do so.
The connection is far more successful if the child reaches for their parent’s hand first, and willingly allows their own hand to be taken in our secure grasp. This simple fact of little chubby fingers reaching upwards to catch an adult’s hand indicates their willingness to be guided, grants a dependence on us to direct them and hold them and keep them in safety rather than the child relying on their own toddler wisdom.
It’s pretty easy to see the correlation between our children reaching for our hand and guidance and our own reaching for God’s hand and guidance, isn’t it? We would like to think that our own human wisdom and desires will keep us safe and accomplish our own wills… much like our children do, with lesser understanding. But consider how much further knowledge and understanding our Father has for our lives – what will keep us safe, bring us joy, and grant us peace – compared to our own. Just as our children believe that they know what is best for themselves, do we. Often, with much the same results if given our own ways.
But consider the difference between their holding our hand and our holding their hand – it is not just their own strength that keeps them safe as they cling to us, but our superior strength that holds on to them. A perfect example of this is when we walk down a set of steep stairs with our children – do we let their little hands grasp two of our fingers and expect that they will have the strength to continue to hold on when they stumble? No, we automatically enclose their entire hand with our own, and adjust our steps to theirs, and keep an eagle eye on the progress of each of their steps.
Psalm 37:23-24 says “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” And what a Hand! Psalm 89:13 says “Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.” And in verse 21 God says, “My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him.” And in Psalm 136:12, “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.”
Think about this facet of God’s love for us when you hold your children’s hands. Know that our Abba Father is ready, with eagle eyes and an outstretched arm, to take our hands the instant we reach for His guidance and tangible expression of His love. Like the Psalmist, may we pray “May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.”
Strive to be as a little child who, while its mother holds its hand, goes on fearlessly, and is not disturbed because it stumbles and trips in its weakness. So long as God holds you up by the will and determination to serve Him with which He inspires you, go on boldly and do not be frightened at your little checks and falls, so long as you can throw yourself into His arms in trusting love. Go there with an open, joyful heart as often as possible; if not always joyful, at least go with a brave and faithful heart.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES
I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee.