My grandson toddles toward the lonely playground. He’s eighteen months old and this morning, his sights are fixed on the metal swing set.
I watch his precarious baby steps as he navigates the gravel path. Best that I stay within arm’s reach in case Grandson falls. Sure enough, he stumbles.
“You’re okay. I got you!”
I grasp his outstretched hand before his knees scrape the ground. Then, I lead him by the hand while we walk to the swing set.
After I settle on the swing, I lift Grandson to my lap and wrap my arm around his waist. He leans back, fearless and content as we swing higher and faster.
This child trusts me with his safety. No whining or wiggling to suggest he’d rather be anywhere but here. Ohh, to be a carefree child!
Throughout my life, I’ve seen the Lord’s mercies. He repeatedly rescues me from danger and cushions my falls. So I know his eye is on me, and his Spirit guides me. But,
I want to trust God more. To be content with the here and now when life’s events feels like nettles in my socks.
Whenever I hear—pandemic, protests, politics—my body stiffens. I grumble about social distancing, quarantine, masks, my canceled appointments—hair today, denied tomorrow.
I raise my hands in protest rather than prayer.
This isn’t the summer vacation I bargained for. This isn’t the retired life I’d anticipated. This isn’t the lifestyle I’d envisioned for my grown children. I want to see my parents without fear of infecting them with COVID19!
Dad says, “Could be worse!”
Today is worse.
It’s nine a.m. and I’m drenched in sweat as the mercury in my outdoor thermometer inches toward a hundred. I can tolerate the heat, but rolling power outages and Red Flag Warnings (to evacuate our home) are in effect while the not-so-distant wildfires paint the sky ash grey. Yesterday, the foothills looked like they were puffing a cigarette. Today, they’re a chain-smoker.
I inhale deep, before the winds shift south and the air smells like a stale smoking lounge. I worry for the firefighters. I ponder what I’d do if my house burned down.
My body is swinging in the breeze, but my disposition is teetering on the edge of a miry pit. God intervenes like the doting Father that he is.
“Karen, you’re okay. I got you.”
I want to believe you, Lord, but….
From where I stand on planet earth, it feels like you’ve abandoned your creation. Not that I’d blame you. A time out, with our noses on the wall, might do everyone some good. But right now, I’m not feeling okay.
God knows me. And yes, he is patient. He brings to mind what my mentor, Loretta, has told me repeatedly. The eternal perspective that has pulled me up by the boot straps on more than one occasion, and helped me forge ahead by God’s grace.
She’d point to the pandemic, the wildfires and the nettles in my socks and tell me,
“Every circumstance is an opportunity for God to teach and change us.”
Change us? How?
To become more like Christ—more loving, compassionate, kind, patient, forgiving, willing to serve, prayerful.
I inwardly squirm. “I don’t want to learn these lessons the hard way. Can’t I sit in my recliner and read the Bible and be changed?”
My grandson points to the sky, bringing me back to this sweet spot.
I follow his wide-eyed gaze.
“That’s a Red-Tail Hawk,” I tell him. “Birds use thermals to soar without flapping their wings.”
My grandson isn’t old enough to comprehend everything I say, but he’s taking it all in—his surroundings, my words, the tone of my voice, my actions. He’s getting to know me as well as life.
Spending time with someone will do that, you know.
Grandson scoots off my lap and heads for the tall metal slide. He’s been there before. And he’s not afraid. He knows that grandma will be right beside him.
That’s a God lesson . . . even in this!