I love my son, Collin, with all my heart. He can be a challenge (not unlike any other child out there), but especially because many of his weaknesses in childhood are weaknesses that I have clung to well into adulthood and that is a deeply humbling thing.
I can illustrate in many ways. One that comes to mind accompanies this photo. We were on a family vacation in South Haven, Michigan. It’s a place that we have created memories through the years and it holds a special place in our hearts. We are energized when we are there. We breathe in the fresh air, feel the sand between our toes, and experience the waves rushing up to meet us on the beach. We love the shops and restaurants that we have visited during different stages of our lives. We love the people. It’s become something like home, though altogether different from West Indy in many ways.
However, the first night of our most recent visit had us driving headlong into tornado weather. The sky turned green, hail struck our windshield, and our car was wobbling dramatically as the wind whipped us back and forth on the highway on our way into town. Amy and I were nervous but attempted to portray strength to keep our children from panicking.
There was no doubt that things can be dangerous, even in our places of rest.
The photo was taken after the storm subsided as we took our first walk down the pier to see the lighthouse. Waves were still crashing over our heads at times and water covered the walkway, and yet Amy and Leah and I were ecstatic at the relief we felt that the storm was behind us and traveling further inland. Collin, on the other hand, was panicked and felt completely out of control in the wagon.
I understand why he felt that way – being in a vehicle that he could not steer on a pathway he could not see under the reflective water with an edge that looked down into the depths of the water with no guard rail. Amy and I were completely in control with no doubt that he would be safe, but he couldn’t allow himself to relax in our care.
An adult sees that in a child and we chuckle, shake our head, and say to ourselves that they will one day learn to trust and relax. We say to ourselves that he will one day see that we were in control the entire time on that pier, no matter how perilous it seemed. I’m sure that my parents said that about me once or twice when I was a kid. I’m sure they believed I would learn to give up control once I saw that God, who has got the whole world in His hands (Psalm 95:4), was bringing all things together for my good (Romans 8:28). But here I stand as an adult, still with a look of shock every time things aren’t going according to my plans (James 4:13-14).
Do you have moments like those? Do you feel out of control with your financial situation? Health? Mental health? Family relationships? Work situation? Political power? The legacy that you leave behind? The way that people view you? Your ability to parent? Your approval of the community that surrounds you? Any aspect of the future? Any aspect of your personal growth? Anything at all?
Well, I can say that you are just one human out of many. You are a part of a species that is out of control of most of our circumstances. And yet you are a part of humanity which God created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and under the control of His divine power (Colossians 1:16–17). When you are on the proverbial pier that’s covered with water and that has no guard rails, seeking a steering wheel to get yourself exactly where you believe you are safest, just look back behind your seat and see a loving God who has His hand on the handle and directing you where you need to go (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Does that mean that it will be the easiest ride? No, it doesn’t (John 16:33). Does it mean that it will seem like the safest and most comfortable path to take along that pier? Absolutely not (Luke 9:23). But you will notice that, as you get closer to the edge, you will have a front-row-seat to see God’s providence as you may have never seen it before. As you peek over the side and see the terrifying waves and the depths of the water, as you notice how close you are to losing everything you thought you had to protect, you should notice that God’s face carries a smile, without a wrinkle of concern or look of fear in His eyes, and His hand is firmly fixed to the tether that promises you will never be lost from our God’s side (John 10:28). If none of this applies to you, then I’m sorry it was not more specific to your circumstances. But if it does apply to you, may this illustration give you as much peace as it has brought to me. May it fill you with hope as you recognize the love that God has for you. May it give you strength to let go of control and rest in Him. May it give you freedom to go into the world and display the life-giving Gospel that God poured out in your life. I pray those things over you and I now as I post this blog and I will continue to pray them over us all into the future.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff