Daddy is crouched, hands extended. Mommy is crouched, facing him, hands extended, and holding onto tiny fingers. The little one bounces on tip toes, arms raised, grin extending from ear to ear and a wordless determination visibly worn on his face.
“One, Two, Three…. You can do it, keep going next foot!” Daddy says.
Mommy grits her teeth and holds her breath. There is a moment between steps where baby falters. Baby falls. Mommy and Daddy move in to console, comfort, then start the process again.
This time baby moves forward. Slow, mincing baby- steps. Tip-toe bouncing steps. Towards Daddy. (Or the couch…or from the couch to Mommy or to Daddy, each stroy may be a little different;)
Parent or not- most have witnessed the miracle of a baby learning to walk. It is a symphony of physics, determination and faith. Baby trusts parents. Parents trust the process. For all children, falls are an inevitable, albeit frightening, part of learning.
I have to admit, that many of my greatest learning experiences with Christ, have been the same. The times where I have been most deeply affected by His grace, have been the times where He has held my hands and taught me to walk, lifting me up when I stumble, in the same way a parent teaches a child.
God’s Love for Israel (vs. 1-4)
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. “
The book of Hosea is an interesting one. God calls Hosea to live a life of parallel to Israels’ unfaithfulness. God calls Hosea, as a prophet, to marry a prostitute. Excuse me? Say what? that would be my response, yet God had something special in mind. Hosea obeyed. Hosea’s life becomes an experience of both God’s grace, and His patience. “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking him by the arms…but they did not realize it was I who healed them”
I remember teaching my children to walk. Over and over (we have 3 sons) we lived the opening paragraphs of this article. I remember each time, the nervous task of letting go and being fully aware that my precious little one would fall. And fall again. I remember the bumps and bruises. I remember my temptation to envelope them in bubble wrap. (Well- I remember the temptation to skip all the pain and carry them forever- man am I glad I didn’t do that- my 17 year old would crush me in a heartbeat!)
With each step, we cheered. With each fall, we comforted then, we encouraged another try.
We never screamed at the little learner “What’s the matter with you? Stop FALLING. WALK!”
Yet- I can’t tell you how many times- I’ve been afraid that God would take just that attitude with me, as I stumble along through my faith walk. Somedays I stumble in sin. (ummm OK truthfully, I stumble into some sort of sin every DAY!) Somedays, I struggle to hold onto My Heavenly Fathers hands- because the path I am walking is bumpy, there are obstacles, and I don’t know how to avoid them. Somedays, God carries me- others- He always me to walk.
In my fear, my sin, my pride,- I sometimes let go, I fall.
And My Heavenly Father is there to lift me up, dust me off, encourage me, and teach me some more. He doesn’t scream at us when we fall- He holds our hands and teaches us to walk. He knows our falls are a necessary part of learning to walk.
Every journey is full of small steps, every child learns to walk in a similar way, by falling, getting up, trying again. So do I, I’m just glad I am not learning to walk alone. I have my heavenly Father, holding my hands.
Dear Lord- I thank you for each step, for teaching me to walk, for letting me fall so that I can yet again be lifted up and comforted by you, so that I can learn to run. Someday Lord- I look forward to running with you….I love you Lord- amen.