My two-year-old son clung tightly to my neck as I tried to lower him onto the wet sand where the ocean waves were gently rolling.
“You’re going to be fine,” I said, trying to pry him off my neck, but he wouldn’t let go. Instead, he started screaming.
No matter how much I tried to convince him, he obviously had it in his head that the ocean was going to swallow him up if his feet even touched the wet sand. So, I finally gave in and walked away from the water and onto the dry sand with my son’s arms squeezing my neck.
I’ve never been one to indulge my children’s irrational fears; and I decided that one way or the other, I was going to find a way to get my son onto that wet sand. So, I came up with a simple strategy: Rather than try to pry him off of my neck, I would hold him closely as we walked over the dry sand and I would gradually move closer to the water.
I started walking down the sandy beach with my son in my arms; and with each step, I barely moved to the left while calmly talking to him. I was worried that he would suddenly panic and we’d have to start all over again. But he stayed still, increasingly relaxing in my arms as we talked.
After we’d made it to the shore and I had been walking on the wet sand for a while, I said, “You sure are heavy!” and lowered him onto the sand, where his little feet made an imprint. He didn’t flinch; instead, he walked on the sand until he eventually got comfortable enough to move towards the waves. I looked at my wife, smiled, and gave a thumbs up. My son had done something brave and he didn’t even know it.
As I walked beside my son on the beach, the Lord walked with us, and the Holy Spirit brought this idea to my mind: Quite often we are all terrified sons and daughters, convinced that we’re going to get swallowed up and dragged into the ocean of life’s troubles. But our fears are irrational. Father God is Lord over the waves and could drain the entire ocean dry for us if it was necessary.
God is patient with our fearful hearts but He is determined to push us beyond them. So, He holds us close and He calms us through His Holy Spirit, the encouragement of other believers, and the truth of the holy Scriptures. He takes us places we could’ve never reached alone, keeping us safer than we realize.
One day we’ll die and wake up in paradise and realize that our walk with God on this earth wasn’t just about facing terrifying oceans or becoming braver. It was about finding our place in His arms, trusting His love, knowing that wherever He leads us, He will go there too.
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