“You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don't see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing...” 1 Peter 1:8 (MSG)
Just the other day, while attending a swim meet I happened upon a sweet little girl of no more than 6 accompanying her father. Off to my right and a few rows down, Dad was parked down upon the bleachers, little girl standing in front of him with back turned away. As her fragile frame stood before him, I noticed her tiny arms were held within his hands. Suddenly, my eyes grew as large as saucers as Dad began dangling his daughter out over the bleachers!
The moment I saw this father grasp his little girl’s wrists and lean her out over those rows of hard metal bleachers, I couldn’t help but alarm myself with how dangerous this game seemed. If her foot slipped, she would surely head face first into serious injury. If he were to shift his grip and lose his hold on her, she could tumble from row to row down those unforgiving risers. Thankfully, neither happened. All that ensued was the sweetest display of a father/daughter bond that was so strong, it personified the meaning of love and deep trust.
As I studied this little girl busying herself with the sights and experience, I realized she was not peeking back at her dad to be sure he was there. She wasn’t looking down, assuring herself of his grip. In fact, over the entire span of time, I only caught her gazing back once to catch the eye of her father. And in that one look, it was clear she wanted to show him how excited she was.
Here I was, off in the distance fighting off waves of maternal turmoil, and this little girl was living it up, growing more and more exuberant as Dad leaned her further and further forward. You couldn't have found the slightest trace of dread, fear, or even panic within her as she was held out far beyond comfort and safety. Nothing but smiles and sheer delight were painted from ear to ear, and her joy was incredibly captivating...I couldn’t help but watch and join right in.
You see, this little girl realized a simple, yet very important truth – her daddy had her, and He was never going to let go. The entire time she was looking out with her back turned to her supporter, she inherently knew Dad was there and that his loving hands were gripping her ever so tightly. She was secure and confident.
Do you see where this is going? Each of our lives with God are a unique journey and we have separate personal relationships with our Heavenly Father. He takes us down different paths and places us in situations tailored to our own specific purposes in this life.
Yet, no matter our circumstances or trials, we’re each called to trust and live lives of total, “dangling out there” faith. We are beckoned to offer our lives and our proverbial wrists to our Mighty God’s hands. He asks that we trust Him as He stretches us out far beyond our comfort zones...further and further over the ledges of our lives.
Just like this little girl I happened upon, a dangling faith journey can be exhilarating. It can be full of adventures and discovery when new details arise around every corner. And yet, there are surely times when faith and trust aren’t quite so amusing to exercise. More often it’s a bit too uncomfortable. We feel spread a little too thin, like a smidgen of butter scraped over a gigantic piece of hot toast.
In this life it seems there are endless moments when all we want to do is scream, “Stop! Get me off this rollercoaster - I’ve had enough!” But the thing is the ride doesn’t stop; we are not the ones in control. The devoted God of our Universe is; He knows what He’s doing and it is surely not a game to him.
If the journey of faith were always comfortable and fun, it would do nothing to shape us more into the beautiful image of Christ. We would simply enjoy the little rides and then settle back into our comfortable ways. Call me silly, but that just doesn’t seem to line up with our mysterious God’s ways...
Sure, the “great unknown” can be incredibly scary. We are creatures of comfort and routine. We like to arise in the morning knowing there’s enough milk for our cereal and peanut butter for our sandwich. We don’t like opening our eyes to a new day, realizing nothing but “what ifs” and “could be’s” are staring us in the face. But we shouldn’t be focusing on those temporary things (2 Corinthians 4:18). We need to lift our gazes to our one surety: Christ, our eternal Savior, and His priceless Spirit living in our beings.
So do we still obediently trust Jesus when it’s not “fun” anymore? What about when our wrists begin to hurt because we’ve been dangled out a little too long and too far over the edge? And what about when it suddenly feels like our Father’s not even holding us anymore? Do we lean out in faith then? Do we trust when it seems like we’re in a free-fall, just waiting for the smack of impact...or an impending collision with more disappointment? And can the people watching us from a distance still experience the joy within our hearts, no matter our circumstance?
“Say this: "GOD, you're my refuge. I trust in you and I'm safe!" That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you're perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—” Psalm 91:1-3 (MSG)
As hard as it is, we need to concentrate on the knowledge that our Father has His Sovereign, loving hands around our wrists at all times. He, Himself, is securely placing us out over the chasms of faith – whether we feel Him or not. He stretches us out further so we will trust Him more; so we can see life from new perspectives.
And you know, back at that swim meet it wasn’t that little girl’s job to continue checking her father’s grip or to remind him that he needed to hold her or she would fall. Much the same, it’s not our duty to remind our Father that we are being stretched out far beyond our comforts. He doesn’t need to be analyzed to see if his intentions are genuine. We should know by now that they are...true and loving right down to the core of who He is.
And though God loves our communication with Him, we really don’t need to call to His attention the times we aren’t having fun anymore. He already knows – He sees, He hears, and He will respond. This merciful, loving Father of ours has only the best in mind for us, and though at times it’s terribly hard, we must lean into the knowledge that His heart is for us...that His hands are holding us, and He will never let us go.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine...so when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." 1 Peter 1:6,7 (NLT)
Well, do you trust Him today? Do I? Will we rely on the relentless promise that Guardian God will not let our feet slip? That He will watch over our coming and going both now and forevermore?
Amidst the dips and dives of your faith journey, take the time to enjoy the moment...the experiences. No matter what comes, close your eyes and realize the One who holds the stars up in the sky is securely gripping every facet of your life. From this perspective life will begin to take on a whole new meaning, and being dangled out by the arms may not feel quite so dangerously unsure.
Right now I encourage you; take a deep breath and offer your wrists, your very life, to the hands of Almighty God. He can be trusted. Now it’s up to you, my friend - will you lean out a little further today?
Dangling A Little More,
“You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NLT)
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