Stick your finger near a baby’s hand, and he’ll grab it. It’s a cute and iconic image, worthy of a poster.
But that grip is powerful! When a person that small and helpless clings to another human, it can take your breath away.
That was my reaction. I know it’s just a reflex, but when my days-old daughter grabbed my finger, my heart swelled. It was like she recognized her weakness and identified this person as the solution. There was glory in that gesture, something beautiful and instinctive that helped me understand my new role as a father.
In the blink of an eye, my children no longer needed my finger. But they still needed my hands. When learning to walk or climb the stairs, I provided balance. When crossing the road or tightroping along a curb, I lent direction and safety. When waiting in line at the store, I gave presence and security. Fathers communicate so much to their children through a simple grip.
I’m for you. I’ll protect and help you. I’m here and I won’t abandon you. You’re mine and I love you.
As my children age, they grow more independent and self-assured. When we walk together, my youngest still sneaks up and slips her hand in mine, but I know these days are numbered.
In God’s wisdom, parents often mature in a parallel way to their children. Our kids let go of our hands, and we learn to do the same.
Though I still supervise and teach and discipline, those roles will cease. But my children, like me, will still need guidance and instruction, protection and discipline.
What I cannot provide, God gives in abundance. He’s worthy of my trust. His hands are strong and gentle, capable and powerful, wise and good.
At the apex of history, his hands were pierced, stretched wide on the tree. For me. For my children.
There will come a day when I can no longer reach out to touch my children. But they’ll be in good hands.
For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.” – Isaiah 41:13 (ESV)