This past Monday, our weather was freakishly good. The sun broke free from it’s icy chains, and for one more day shouted “I am here!!”. It was just enough to jump start our week. We had spent the morning on a bit of a playdate, and my better half had spent all night with some girls from youth group, so she was wiped. Nap-time was surprisingly unattractive to our girls that day, and I didn’t wanna sit inside while it was over 50 degrees and sunny – so out we went!
When we began our walk, it was in a wide open parking lot. I kept the girls close to me, and required hand-holding until we made it to the edge of a path. At that point, we could let go of hands, although we remained fairly close, with dad leading the way. Finally, we began on the trail. At this point, they knew dad was okay with them exploring, and they ran forward independently. Our oldest naturally took on the role of leader, every once in a while pointing something out to her sisters. Our youngest drifted between walking with her sisters, and walking next to daddy, and being carried over the muddy bits.
If my oldest had broke out with a sprint from the gate of our mini-van sliding door – I would have freaked out. But once on our path, I knew they had arrived at a place without as many opportunities to make bad choices. Sure, if they really wanted, they could have run straight into the tall walls of grass on either side, and ended up in who knows what type of muddy mess. But over-all, I knew that once I’d led them onto this path, I could walk leisurely along behind, watching with joy as my girls “explored” a new trail.
That’s one of our hopes, isn’t it? As parents, that we can use these young formative years, to lead our children to a path where we can enjoy watching them explore their way forward, knowing we’ve given them a great start. But even then, there is no 100% guarantee. They’re free at any moment to jump off the path. Imagine that feeling, multiplied by the infinite.
God has led us to a path of New Creation, and has given us His Spirit to walk with us. We can choose to continue exploring the path He’s given, or decide at any moment to jump into the tall grassy walls on either side. Obviously this analogy is limited. There are all sorts of animals that could have jumped from the grasses and knocked right into my kids that would have spoiled our little hike. But in the meantime, I smiled…both as father, and as follower. I’m thankful He calls/empowers us to lead…
“So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”