Last month, Traci and I, and our three amazing kids, were on our West Coast road trip from Michigan. During six weeks of travel, we logged 10,860 miles and countless hours of fun with friends and family. It was a great trip to rest, recruit supporters for Overboard Ministries and to prepare our hearts for the work God has for us here in Michigan. A week after my oldest niece’s wedding, we spent 7 days with my brother Dan (it was his daughter’s wedding) and his two youngest children. It was a fantastic week for all of us. The hundred degree weather made his pool perfect for daily swims and time with his family was a real treat.
Dan’s youngest -- my nephew Steven -- is a great young man, today. 20 years old, he loves the Lord, and loves adventure in life. He’s a lot of fun to be around, and my son AJ especially enjoys hanging out with him.
One sunny afternoon while watching him play games with my kids in the pool, I took a little stroll down memory lane. I have a lot of memories of Baboochka (that of course, is his preferred name!), and one in particular that still makes my heart race when I think about it.
Steven was probably just three or four years old, and all of us took an afternoon to visit Bush Park in Salem, Oregon. We were walking along Mission street (a particularly busy street) preparing to enter the park, when Steven, suddenly and rather inexplicably, bolted toward Mission street. It was moment of sheer terror for everyone as he scooted between two parked cars and prepared to emerge on a street with vehicles traveling 35-45 mph.
My brother’s parental instincts kicked in, and he jumped down a little embankment and bounded between two cars to catch Steve as he was a step away from entering into a lane of traffic. Honestly, a second or two later, and that might have been the last memory our family would have had of Steven. My brother saved his son’s life.
Watching Steven jump in the pool as a 20-year-old man, I’m thankful for my brother’s quick thinking, and his decision to grab Steve’s hand and yank him to safety. There was no debate, there was no, “Steven, you get back up here right now, or you’re gonna get hit by car. Oh yeah, young man, when you get hit by a car doing 45, you’ll be sorry you didn’t listen to me!” No. He jumped into danger, grabbed his son’s hand and pulled him back to safety.
I’m thinking about that story again today, as I’ve been meditating on Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’” (NIV). I like how The Message paraphrases it: “That’s Right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’”
I love that verse. God “takes hold of [my] right hand” -- He has a “firm grip on [me]” -- and He’s here to help. Like my brother jumping out to help his son avoid serious injury, God is taking hold of you and me, and notice that He’s not waiting for us to reach out to Him! My brother Dan didn’t wait for Steven to realize the gravity of his situation, and likewise, God isn’t waiting for you and I to come to our senses before He offers help. He initiates. He grabs our hand. He helps.
Of course, we can resist His help, we can reject His work in our lives, but thankfully, He still doesn’t give up and He doesn’t quit. Sure, He might up the ante, He might increase the pressure to help persuade us to trust Him, but He doesn’t give up helping us. He wants us to grow to be more and more like His Son, Jesus.
I’m thankful for God’s help. I’m thankful He keeps grabbing my hand and I’m thankful for His reminder that I don’t need to fear or panic; He’s here to help.
How can you surrender to God’s help today? How can you redirect your focus from fear of circumstances, to faith in a God who helps? From anxiety to peace? From fear of the unknown to trust in the One who knows everything?
He’s taking hold of you, and He wants to help.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!