To me one of the most precious gifts from God is the privilege to call Him my Father. My earthly father was a man of deep faith in God. A man of strength and wisdom. A humble man who enjoyed being with people. A man who adored his family and wanted to protect them.
One of the most important, yet invisible, ways that Dad protected me was to teach me to make good decisions. And he trusted me to make good decisions. When we were in college, my brother and I had to turn in permission slips, signed by a parent, if we were going to be off campus overnight. Dad was over 1,000 miles away and could only send permission by the US Postal Service. This did not work very well. And it annoyed my Dad.
So on a visit to see us, he walked into the Dean’s office and asked to sign a paper giving both of us his permission to be off campus whenever we requested it. The Dean was floored with Dad’s request. Dad explained, “I raised my kids to know right from wrong. They’re grown now and they need to make their own decisions based on what they’ve been taught.”
We can only protect our kids for so long before it is time for them to grow up and take on the responsibilities of life. Those growing up years are our opportunity to teach them right from wrong, how to work, how to play, how to trust God and our opportunity to be there right beside them while they are learning and to step in if and when they need us.
All these memories came flooding back as I viewed pictures posted by a friend on Facebook. Mom and Dad and little Miriam went to a branding in the Sandhills of Nebraska. I needed a quick lesson on the process as I’ve never been to a branding.
You partner up with someone and stand in the ‘wrestling line.’ Once the calf is roped (on its hind legs) one will hold the line taut while the other makes sure the head end of the calf is on the ground. Of course, it takes some wrestling to get it to the ground. It takes quite a bit of strength to hold them down while they are branded, and perhaps given a shot. But these things are for the calf’s safety and health.
Miriam asked if she could wrestle with her dad. (By now you know this means something completely different than we would expect!) She was excited to be standing next to her dad, waiting for their turn. I could see her excitement in the pictures.
And then it was their turn. She wasn’t afraid – because her dad was right there beside her. She’d watched others get the calf down and she was ready to do her part. Right in there. With all her energy, strength, and joy.
And then came the picture that brought tears to my eyes.
Dad has a hold of the rope, but you can see he has a strong grip on Miriam as she steps in to hold the calf down.
That reminds me of the grip that God has on me. I am in this world to glorify Him. Sometimes to do hard tasks. He never sends me in alone. He’s not afraid to teach me or to give me opportunities a bit beyond my strength or abilities because He is my strength. He gives me the energy, strength, and joy that I need.
There is nothing I can’t do when I am in His grip.
John 10:29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”