Someone to Hold
By Heather Allen –
This summer I met a stocky toddler with honey brown eyes. She and her baby sister are wards of the state. Over the past year I have spent some time with foster children. In the sadness of their situation there is also joy. Many believers open their lives and homes to help care for these children. The duration is uncertain; it can be weeks or years. A housemother from a children’s home said girls in her care are constantly moved, often with only ten minutes to gather their belongings and adjust emotionally. I think about my belongings filling shelves and closets and counters while theirs fit in a solitary bag. What would it be like to not know the people you live with or how long you will be with them?
My friend Stephanie is fostering two little girls, and knowing their time together may be short, she longs to give them hope. Zephaniah 3:17 is painted on their temporary bedroom wall.
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)
Hurting over the toddler, who insists on keeping every possession by her side, Stephanie asked, “If that were you or I, stripped to one small bag that held all our belongings, would we still believe we were loved? Would we believe our life had purpose? And how tightly would we cling to that bag?” She went further. “Imagine everything you hold is lifted from your grasp. Who would you be?”
In Egypt, the Israelites cried for a deliverer. They prayed God would rescue them. He did. Plagues that struck the Egyptians did not touch them. They were set apart but it was not because they had done anything right, they simply belonged to Yahweh. There was a distinction made. Sadly, knowing they were set apart was not enough to keep them content in the wilderness. Instead a generation fell.
I wonder if the longing to be free ever went beyond idealism. Instead of having a micromanaged life, they could choose. And in choosing they longed for the certainty that captivity had provided. I feel conviction as I write this, compelled to admit that I sacrifice freedom for certainty too.
I think about that small bag of belongings and my hope that Stephanie’s tot will know there is more. I wish she knew that her little bag held no assurance, that Jesus is enough. And I wish that took the ache and loneliness from her small heart. If it would make a difference, I’d put my hands on her cheeks and kneel and say “let it go sweetie, let it go.”
As I contemplate what might help, a holy hushed whisper asks me the same question, “What would it take for you to lay down your bags and just hold on to me?”
I am bereft and filled with an intense longing for that to be our reality, hers and mine.
Heather Allen spends most of her time caring for her hubby and 3 kids. Check out her blog: http://www.theknottedapron.blogspot.com/