Sitting on the closed toilet, I watched mesmerized as the two-edged safety razor scratched a path through the foam across his cheek and along his strong jaw. Dipping it into the warm water in the sink and sharply swishing the razor to remove the hair, he began again. The sound of his voice, deeply droning in patient response to my childish questions about the process, was soothing. It amazed me that he could do it without slicing into his flesh.
Given my history, even as a six-year-old girl, men fascinated me. They were mysterious creatures, even though I had three older brothers. However, they were just boys in my mind; bossy, noisy and annoying!
The peaceful, comforting scene shattered when my mother burst into the bathroom, wondering who my stepfather was talking to. After all, it was my very first day of school, and she had safely deposited me, along with my siblings, in the schoolyard not long ago.
We had moved, yet again, and this time to a new city where I had not had time to make any friends. Introverted and extremely shy, the sight of a sea of strange faces had overwhelmed me and the thought of trying to fit in sent me scurrying on foot back home to safety.
My mother, however, was a force not to be reckoned with, and she insisted on my return to school. So the three of us made the trek again, with me sitting dread-filled huddled in the back seat.
Heart thumping and stomach flip-flopping, I walked with them up to the classroom door. Hanging back and with tear-filled eyes, I begged not to have to go in. Enveloping my small hand in his large, strong one and looking down at me, my stepfather’s deep voice spoke. “I’ll go in with you.”
So slowly, we walked hand in hand into the large, cavernous room, and after briefly giving an excuse for my late arrival, my stepfather walked me to my assigned desk. I felt exposed and embarrassed as a classroom of faces stared at me, making my way, some whispering and even sneering. Clinging to his big hand from my seat, my stepfather squatted down beside me. In a gentle, loving, quiet voice, he spent several minutes with me, telling me I would be okay and encouraging me to be brave.
Beloved, this is such a picture of what our loving, powerful, compassionate Father God does with us when we feel frozen in the grip of fear, indecision or anxiety. When we feel alone, exposed, unsure and unwanted, He goes with us, holds our hand and whispers words of love and encouragement. He stays beside us.
Here is where the analogy breaks down. My stepfather, like us all, was a flawed human being and eventually drifted away. The LORD, however, never leaves our side but is always close by and ready to comfort and guide us.
It is so easy, isn’t it, to begin to focus on the countless expectations, demands, challenges and dangers in which we find ourselves surrounded? Icy whispers of fear creep into our hearts, and we respond with feelings of shameful inadequacy or the belief that we only need to put on a mask and bluff our way through. We long to run and hide in the safety of isolation, food, work, alcohol, etc., but ultimately it all leads to strength-sapping loneliness and hopelessness.
The Lord has promised us a better way, His way. If we keep our eyes on Him and follow His lead, He will guide us and help us on the path He has set out for us. We need to cling to His hand with all our strength, just as I did my stepfather’s. The most beautiful thing is even if we should loosen our grasp or let go, He never will! He promises to hold us firmly!
“May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.”Psalm 119:76 NIV
My heart swells with gratitude even writing this. I pray yours does too! Let us encourage each other not to forget that we have a powerful Daddy on our side who fully knows each one of us and loves us anyway. He is never surprised by our shortcomings, our failures or our weaknesses but takes our hand and whispers, “I’ll go in with you.”