“She was scared at first,” I told my husband.
I walked towards the lounge chair he had saved for me, while my six-year-old ran off to find her sisters. My middle child and I had just rode a lazy river ride together while the rest of the family went on to another wading pool with mini water slides.
“What in the world did she have to be afraid of?” he asked in exasperation.
I thought about how the water rushed rapidly as we had approached it, walking down the narrow aisle with rails on each side, a stack of people behind us, making it difficult to turn around even if you wanted to.
She had spoke softly, “I’m scared,” while gnawing nervously on a chunk of her wet, blond hair.
I had explained to her that I was there, and that I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her. I relayed this to my husband as we sat poolside afterwards.
“I’ll be holding you the whole time,” I had encouraged her.
My husband shook his head incredulously as I retold the conversation with our middle daughter.
“I don’t think they understand the lengths we would go to to protect them,” my husband mused.
I replied, “Now we know how God must feel.”
God tells us over and over in His Word, the Bible, that He will protect us.
“I will never leave you.”
“I uphold you.”
“Don’t be anxious about your life.”
“Cast your anxieties on me.”
“Behold, I am with you.”
“I will strengthen you, I will help you.”
“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted.”
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
“In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
“The hairs of your head are numbered.”
“I am the good shepherd, I lay down my life for my sheep.”
As a parent, I can tell my daughters again and again not to be afraid. I won’t let anything happen to them. I would die to protect them. They know this is true! Yet…
How often do I feel like a timid child, a small, soft-spoken six-year-old that a stiff wind could blow down? I, too, know my Heavenly Father will protect me. Yet…
When the scary current threatens to take me into deep waters.
When the illnesses come with age.
When the bank account dwindles and there’s not enough money to go around.
When people hurt me.
When my enemies come against me.
When I cannot see His face.
Twenty years ago God gave me a vision, and in this vision I was a small, towheaded wisp of a child, similar in appearance to my petite six-year-old now. In my vision I ran across a large field of green grass. My ABBA Father watched me from the porch of our farmhouse. He watched as I ran farther and farther from the safety of the house. I imagined I must be like a tiny, barely visible dot at the perimeter of the yard. I reached the fence, but that didn’t stop me. Still I ran. At some point, I tripped over something and I fell. Tears ran down my cheeks as I looked at the bloody mess I had made of my knee. I was all alone, hurt, and it was my fault. I think I cried as much for the pain of my own heart as I did the ache in my knee. When suddenly a large hand reached for mine. It was Him. Papa.
He helped me up, He brushed the dirt off me, and He lovingly placed a bandage on my knee.
“How did you find me, Daddy?” I asked. “I was so far from home.”
“I was always with you,” He answered softly.
I wish I could tell you that after that, in my own life as an adult, that I never left Papa’s front yard. I wish I could say I didn’t hop the fence. Most of all, I wish I could say I never fell again, but I cannot. I still fall; some just harder than others. What I can say is this. Even at a point in my life when I fell the hardest, and when I was the farthest away, when I called His name I heard the answer.
“I am here.”
Never forgotten, never abandoned, loved beyond what I deserved.
This morning as I prayed about life, fending off melancholy over an area of life where I felt I had failed and fallen short, I felt the Lord speak.
“You know, sometimes what the world may call falling, I simply call redirection.”
If indeed I believed that the paths God laid down for me were the ones that succeeded, then I had to know His redirection was always for my good. And in life when I felt like I had fallen, He was always there with a big, comforting hand, soothing balm for my hurts, and a gentle voice of truth that said, “this way, child.”
Falling doesn’t mean forgotten. As children of God we feel like when we fail God is absent, sitting up high on a cloud, smirking over the idiocy of His creation. We cower under fear of this cruel world because we think we are alone. We assume Dad has left us to our own devices. We see the fast current, hear the rushing sound of water, and we are afraid, even when He is right there beside us. It’s human nature.
But aren’t you glad He patiently encourages us, over and over again, like you would a child?
“Do not be afraid. I am here.”