“Give me your hand!”, Steven tried to shout above the rush of water. Frantically, he thrust himself forward, trying to grab Faith’s frail white hand, but he couldn’t reach her without letting go of the branch that held him to the bank.
“ I can’t hang on any longer”, Faith cried as the river’s strength forged on.
Steven could see her weakened spirit, consenting to the river’s demands. “ Faith, please don’t let go”, he sobbed, but Faith’s grip loosened to the fury and in an instant, she was gone. Her body surfaced hours later and miles down stream.
Life, for Steven, died that day. He had lost his wife, his only reason for living and his once unwavering faith in God. Even his two month old baby meant nothing. He ran, unsure of what he was running from, unable to face the truth of reality. He had killed his wife and his dreams. How could he face anyone?
For the last twelve years, Steven would replay his final moments with Faith over and over, blaming himself, trying to figure out why that day had to happen. He could still remember her captivating smile as she begged him to take her fishing.
“It wasn’t too long ago you couldn’t wait for Pastor Rawlins’ ending prayer so we could get our lines out? Take me fishing today, Steven, please? Mama says she’ll watch the baby.” He could never say no to her.
Year after year Steven went back to the river, looking for something, maybe just the satisfaction he got from cursing God or maybe to find the peace he so desperately needed. There were times when he would toy with the idea of throwing himself into the center of the river, to end his continual suffering. But, somehow, he just couldn’t make himself do it.
This year he sat by the river, once again crying, embracing the agony, not wanting to let it go. He knew all he was feeling was well deserved. As he engrossed himself in pity, he noticed someone sitting not far from him. His first thought was how dare someone intrude on MY heartache. He was just getting up to leave, when he realized that this person, a young girl, was also crying. At that moment, their eyes met.
“Mister”, she spoke boldly, “can I pray for you?”, she asked as she wiped away her tears.
“What makes you think your prayer could change anything?”, he asked. “You look like you need some prayer yourself.”
“Pastor Rawlins says if I just believe in what I’m asking for, God promises to give it to me, as long as it’s right for me. I know God would do the same for you.”
“And what is it you’re asking for?”, Steven was almost afraid to know.
“ I’m asking God to bring my daddy back. I know my mama can’t come back, ‘cause Grandma Carolyn says mama was lost in this river when I was just a baby. But, I’ve been praying to God every day to bring my daddy back to me. I know he’s out there and I know he wants to come back.”
Steven hung his head, choking back the tears.
“Today in church”, she went on, “ I asked God for a miracle. Pastor Rawlins says all we need is a little faith and God can bring a miracle.”
Through his tears, Steven asked the question that had been on his heart since the two had met, “What’s your name?”
I’m Hope Faith, named after my mama.
“Well, Hope Faith“ , he held out his shaky hand for hers, “I believe we have both found what we’ve been looking for at this river.” She carefully place her hand in his, sensing all would be OK. “Hope, I’m your daddy.”
Steven and Hope embraced, both sobbing, both knowing that it was Hope’s faith and God’s plan that brought them together. Steven vowed, from that day on, he would never let go of his little girl’s hand, not ever.
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