“Daddy, why are you so afraid?” Those were the words of six-year old Adam as he held his daddy’s hand, walking along the south rim trail of Grand Canyon. My wife Linda and I just smiled. We were walking behind this young family with a baby in a stroller and a first grader. No handrail. No fence. No barrier between the trail and a 4,600 foot drop to the Colorado River below.
Young Adam didn’t understand why his mom was telling him to hang on tightly to daddy’s hand. He didn’t comprehend why he couldn’t just run out ahead of the rest of the family. He sensed dad and mom’s careful navigation along the trail. He heard their warnings. He saw that dad was walking on the side of the trail that was farthest from the edge. He thought dad was scared and afraid.
I’ve thought about that little life lesson quite a few times since June 21 when we were in Arizona while on our sabbatical. Maybe it has been the same for you. There have been times in my life when I thought my Father God was just being too cautious. Afraid. Why did He put these boundaries and restrictions around my life, my attitudes and my actions? What was He afraid of? What’s the big deal if I go ahead and do this or that? Isn’t God just being over-protective and too cautious?
Of course I know the answer now–just like Adam finally figured it out. By the time we reached the end of the south rim trail, Adam caught on. We smiled when we heard him verbalizing how safe he felt hanging on to his daddy’s hand. Linda and I just looked at each other and grinned when Adam started telling his father how happy he was to have his daddy to keep him from falling over the edge into the abyss.
It began with Adam thinking his dad was just a coward. It ended with Adam being filled with gratitude that his father was wise, strong and protective. I love the Psalms in the Bible. Psalm 91 starts out with these reassuring words:
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him.” (v. 1-2).
The rest of Psalm 91 gives a bunch more descriptions and details as to how God wants to protect us from walking off a cliff. It describes God’s father heart for us as His children.
God only installs handrails and fences (commandments and “do nots” in the Scripture) to protect us. Not to stifle us. Not to hurt us. Not to hold us back. Not to make life miserable. But to ultimately give us life. To help us live life to the fullest. And, to protect us from destroying ourselves through bad choices and decisions.
Today, don’t forget whose hand you can hold on to and who you can turn to for help. Psalm 121 gives us this promise:
I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
Have a safe day! You are in good hands!