My younger son likes to run in parking lots. He sees his big brother do it—run from the car to the apartment—so he thinks he can, too. The part he doesn’t understand, of course, is that his brother is looking for oncoming cars. He’s also a whole lot faster. In any case, we make John hold someone’s hand when we’re going from the car to the house or the house to the car.
Yesterday, we were walking from my car to the house, and he was holding onto my little finger. David took off like a shot, and John looked up at me and said, “run, Daddy.”
I knew what he wanted, but I said “Daddy doesn’t want to run. Daddy’s tired.”
“No, John run,” he chastised me. He dropped my finger and took off—for about a second, anyway. Then he hit the big yellow speed bump in the parking lot and face planted. He started shrieking immediately, so I scooped him up and held him. I determined there were no fresh wounds, and no blood. “It’s ok,” I told him. “You’re ok, Daddy’s got you.”
It occurred to me if I’d been holding his hand, he wouldn’t have been able to take off, and certainly wouldn’t have fallen and hurt himself.
I realized I’m like that with God.
Sometimes I feel pretty good, and I want to run. So I drop my Father’s hand, and I take off. I may cruise along for a little while, but I will inevitably face plant when I hit a speed bump. I do this all the time. It’s so easy to think I have things figured out, and that I can do what I feel like, and just run like a madman whenever something strikes me.
It works about as well for me as it does for John running in a parking lot.
I need the stability that comes from having my Father—my God—holding my hand. When I slip (and I will slip), he catches me. Maybe I dangle for a second or two, but I am able to get back on my feet a whole lot more quickly than when I’m on my own.
One of my earliest memories is walking back from some store with my sister when I was very small. She’s holding my hand and I look up at her when she says something. The sun comes through her hair and I squint at the brightness. All I can think about is being with her and playing with the small bag of cheap toys we’ve just purchased. I feel the slight dampness of her palm and with it comes the awareness that her grip is strong enough that I can swing from it. I’m safe in her hands.
I want to be like that with Jesus, and sometimes I am. When I allow myself to love him like a child loves. That is not always an easy thing. I want to feel small, and look up at my impossibly big God. The problem is when I forget I need to be held just like my son, because it’s so damn easy to slip. And we all know what happens then.