You’d think, after a lifetime in the church, that I would have figured things out by now. But I had an epiphany the other day. Maybe I’m just better able to focus now that both kids are tucked away in their own classes (I did have to ignore the frantic demand, “No go church! No go church!” which only makes me hope that K will forget this whole nursery thing by the time she’s three. Otherwise I suppose I’ll be wholly to blame for the ensuing lifetime of heathenism).
The pastor was talking about being a child of God, and a familiar stress rose within my heart. When I first became a Christian, I thought of it as something I chose. It is a choice. You decide that you will take up God’s path, His plan for your life, and follow Him and do His will. As I saw it, you took His hand and became His child. But as much as my parents might have insisted that you can never, from that point on, lose this connection, I always harbored a deep-seeded fear that I could. Somehow, I could lose His hand, the way a child might get lost from a parent in a crowd. If I wasn’t following His closely enough, or made a few too many wrong choices. And so I have lived under a mild but constant spiritual stress. What if I let go? What if what I did wasn’t enough? How could someone like me, who did such a miserable job of being a Christian, ever really be good enough to be a child of God?
But then, sitting there doing a lot of spiritual hand-wringing–sure people could they see how weak I was, what an impostor I was–it occurred to me: I did not choose to be a child of God. I am already a child of God. I chose to take His hand, to walk with Him, to follow Him as best I can, but that has nothing to do with being His child. We are all God’s children, whether or not we chose to acknowledge this or follow Him. I simply chose to walk with Him.
It would be as if M lost my hand in a busy place. He would be no less my son. And moreover, how I would search for him, if he were lost, how my heart would ache to have him back safely in my grasp. Talk about stress! But that’s how it is, once God knows we’re walking with Him. I might lose hold of Him, but I cannot lose Him, especially when He will be searching for me even more than I will be searching for Him.
I don’t mean to be preaching. But this was such a revelation for me, something that, simple as it was, took such a stress of my shoulders. And I found that once that stress was gone, it somehow seemed easier to feel His strong hand in mine, knowing that being His child is something I am, not something I can lose. It’s amazing how stress can change the simplest of things, and how losing that stress makes things all the more simple.
And now M is really up, looking for me and my hands, and there’s no place I’d rather be than with him. That too makes me smile, thinking of God feeling just the same.