I imagine it was a clear, crisp spring day. I was probably five years old, outside pushing my little brother in a baby swing. We were giggling and carefree in a way only children can be. My mom called out, “Dani, don’t push him too high.” And I replied, “It’s ok. Jesus will take care of him.”
This answer did not satisfy my mom, but to me, as a small child, it was so simple. So clear. Jesus takes care of us. We can trust Him. He will keep us safe.
The gospels (Matthew 19:13, Mark 10: 13, Luke 18:15) make it clear that Jesus cared for children in a special way. In this picture of Jesus with the little children, I would have been right on his lap.
But life happens. And as the years went on and I became an adult, things got in the way of me sitting on Jesus’s lap. About four years ago I was really struggling with my faith, among other issues. I had a friend ask me where I would be in this picture. It was a painful question to answer. The reality was I was full of shame:
Of who I was and who I wasn’t.
Of how I looked.
Of never being enough and at the same time being too much.
Of my struggles and insecurities.
Of my lack of hope.
Of my lack of trust in His faithfulness.
And I realized that I wouldn’t even be in the picture. I would be way on the outskirts, hiding. Hesitant and unsure. Curious but not bold enough to go forward. Desiring closeness but hiding in shame. Wanting to trust and have faith but not feeling secure.
And oh, how I wanted to go back to when I was a small child and had complete trust and hope in Jesus -- when I would have run to Jesus instead of hiding.
But it wasn’t that easy. I felt so far away. A year or so later, one Sunday in church, God really spoke to me through the sermon and singing. I pictured Jesus with the children. And I pictured where I would be. I saw Jesus leaving the crowd of children. Looking for me. Seeking me out. Finding me crouched by myself alone on the outskirts. Lifting my head and making me look him in the eye. Telling me that He came for me. That I was worth leaving all of the rest just so He could meet with me. Just so that I would know that He sees my hurt, my shame, my struggles. That He knows all of it, yet still wants me. He still loves me. In that moment, for the first time in a long time, I felt seen by Him.
It took time and work, but now instead of shame, this picture is one that gives me hope. It reminds me of God’s faithfulness. I can see how far God has brought me. And as it so often happens, I can look back and see his faithfulness so much more clearly.
I encourage you to reflect. Where would you be in this picture? How has God shown His faithfulness to you? Are there times of His faithfulness in the past you need to meditate on to give you hope for today?
As for me, I still have a tendency to stray, to hide, but I’m trying to stay in the picture. Maybe I’m not on His lap, I’m too fidgety for that, but I am close by. And there’s no better place to be.
Get to Know the Blogger
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Northwest Ohio, in a small town called Pettisville. When I say small, I mean, “one four-way stop and no stop lights” small. I graduated from public school with fewer than 40 students in my class. This tight knit, farming community was a great place to grow up, except for the fact that at your high school graduation, everyone will still remember and talk about when you forgot your solo in the 6th grade musical…☺
Do you have any weird fears?
I can’t deal with live chickens. Their erratic behavior, beady eyes and weird neck bobbing freaks me out! But I like grilled chicken just fine.
What risk are you happy you took?
Last year in June I moved to a huge city in South Asia. Considering where I grew up and that West Chester, Pa. was the biggest city I’d ever lived in, this was a shock. There are parts I still struggle with, but I am so glad I obeyed God’s call to come. It has been an adventure of a lifetime. So much so, that after my one year ended I decided to stay an extra six months!