On Sunday I found myself engaged in a frustrating mission to find a battery for my vehicle. I say this knowing that there are some of you who may be strict “Sabbath-rest” proponents, and the thought of me trolling around looking for an auto part and then *gasp* installing it on Sunday may push you over the edge. But in my defense, I don’t consider growing roots in a Barca lounger, wearing an Emmit Smith jersey, with a can of Pringles in one hand and a can of Tab or Fresca in the other to be the biblical definition of Sabbath. I like to watch football, but I know its not the benchmark in soul refreshment. Enough of that.
In the parking lot, walking up to the door at Wal-Mart, Karsten, my daughter, instinctively took my hand and we walked to the right of the traffic. About half way between our car and the door I realized that she was walking like she had ingested some sort of controlled substance before she exited the car. She was weaving and bouncing off of my leg; she would speed up in front of me and then slow down so much that I almost dragged her across a handicapped space. Being nearly three feet taller than her, I couldn’t really tell what was happening down there, so I asked her if she was okay. She explained to me that she had closed her eyes for our trip through the busy parking lot and she couldn’t see anything. I looked at her face and she was telling the truth, eyes closed, a goofy grin pasted on her mug.
“I closed my eyes daddy.” The implication didn’t hit me immediately. It was a few more steps, bumps, and tugs until I realized what was going on.
The parking lot was busy. There were cars everywhere. Most driven by people either under the age of eighteen, or over the age of eighty…neither category eliciting a sense of confidence in the surrounding pedestrians. Though the nuances of the “why” were lost on my four year old girl, the reality of the “what” was very clear. She knew the danger that every huge SUV promised to a child with a wayward walking path. She was surrounded by people, and machines, that were far bigger than her body and far faster than her reactions. None of these facts were lost on her.
So, with all things being considered, with life being far too treacherous for one four year old girl to navigate, she not only took her daddy’s hand, but she decided that the only way she could find a walking experience that allowed her to experience the joy she desired was to close her eyes and completely leave her future in her father’s control. No problems, no worries, not a fear nor care to challenge her senses. No stress, no worry, no adversaries to come and steal the laughter from her lips. Daddy’s hand and daddy’s care made everything alright. Everything: the destination and the means to arrive safely, the future plans and the ability to survive until they were carried out, the toy department and the best way to get there.
God will never, never, never let us down if we have faith and put our trust in Him. He will always look after us. So we must cleave to Jesus. Our whole life must simply be woven into Jesus.
– Mother Teresa
As soon as I realized what it meant for her to hold my hand and close her eyes in such a potentially dangerous place I was forced to ask, “do I ever trust my Father like that?” I am an eyes-open kind of person. I have questions and I want answers. I don’t want to move forward until I know what every step is going to look like, what every bump might feel like, and what every reason for going is based on. I’m not saying I won’t do dangerous things at times, I’m just saying that I want to do them on my terms and in my way. And truthfully, this quality likely robs me of much of the peace and serenity that God wants me to have. My daughter is so trusting of me that she had no fear of anything when she was holding my hand. And she didn’t have to work that kind of faith up, or “try to believe”, or fight some sort of “good fight”; she just trusts her father. And Jesus said:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:3-4 ESV)
The enormous idea of the “kingdom of heaven” is based not on our ability to get things done well, it’s not contingent on our excellence in individual achievements, and it certainly isn’t the result of our ability to plan for the future. The “kingdom of heaven”, and the peace and joy and grace and laughter and fully bellies and loving hearts contained in it, is based solely on the King of that kingdom. And we will know the magnificence of that kingdom in the here-and-now in proportion to our confidence in, and understanding of, the King.
Take His hand today. And I would encourage those of you who are walking through tough times, don’t merely grab His hand, but close your eyes. Let Him take you where He wants to and how He wants to. Let Him define the course. Let Him navigate the dangers. Let His step be the trail that blazes our pathway. If we are going to trip, fall into His legs. If we slow down, holding firmly to His hand will ensure that, though we fall behind, we never fall away.
I can only fly freely when I know there is a catcher to catch me. If we are to take risks, to be free, in the air, in life, we have to know that when we come down from it all, we’re going to be caught, we’re going to be safe. The great hero is the least visible. Trust the Catcher.
– Henri Nouwen