Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying,
Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That Your hand would be with me…” 1 Chronicles 4: 9-10a (NIV)
The skies seem as though they will be blue and clear as morning begins to break over the area. But the memory remains of last week’s winds, thunder-storms, and much needed renewing rain across the parched pristine finger of our Florida peninsula. More is on the way, I’m sure, with blue skies to follow.
A few years ago Lynda and I visited Busch Gardens in Tampa with our son, Nathan, daughter-in-law, Amy, and our only granddaughter at the time, Hannah. It was a glorious day being there again, and in particular seeing all the exhibits and the animals through the eyes of our precious granddaughter. At one point during our visit, we came upon one of those huge playground areas with ladders, slides, rope walkways and hiding places, all of which towered above the walkway below. By the excited utterances that began to emit from Hannah’s mouth and watching her bolt toward the apparatus, we knew we were going to be there for awhile.
Hannah, under her own power and by her own initiative, not needing my help—although I was close at hand in case of a misstep—began to climb one of the ladders that led to a landing and then made her way up the wooden platforms and stairs, around and around, to the very top. You could tell she was very pleased with herself.
But when she reached the top of the apparatus, she stopped, for there in front of her was a rope bridge that spanned the walkway below, leading to the tower on the other side and eventually the way down. She could see her Mommy, Daddy and Mimi below her through the ropes, as they encouraged her to walk across the rope bridge. But she stood there—frozen—afraid to move forward and afraid to move back.
I suspect that all of us have been at a similar point in our lives. Maybe we find ourselves at such a point today. Standing in front of an intimidating expanse of “rope bridge” we know we need to cross, and if our fear of the height—with seemingly no safety net below—isn’t enough to stall our journey, we often find that the winds are too strong, the rain too intense, or the thunder and lightning in the gathering storm too great for us to even consider taking another step.
Perhaps we find ourselves at a point where we are having trouble making ends meet. Perhaps a family member is struggling to find their way. Another failure in our lives has left us with a feeling of hopelessness for the future. An illness has hit us or someone we love, and we don’t think we can take another step and don’t know which way to go if we could. Perhaps a long-time friend is struggling with some pain they experienced or mistake they made in their past which they can’t get beyond. Things like that have a way of dampening our enjoyment of the present and negatively coloring the view of our future.
Whatever it is, whatever point we find ourselves, we just can’t seem to find the power to step out and try to make it across whatever abyss, obstruction, challenge, or opportunity we are facing.
And if we attempt it only under our own power—we may be right.
But then there’s the example of Jabez.
The name he had been given meant “pain” or “he will cause pain” and he carried that name at a time in Hebrew history where names were thought to define one’s future—and in many cases became a self-fulfilling prophesy. By the Hebrews standards of the day he was a loser. But Jabez refused to accept what his name forecast for him, he wanted more from life—but not by his power. Jabez had learned about a God Who had freed his forefathers from slavery, rescued them from powerful enemies, caused the seas to part, and water to flow freely from rocks to refresh His people, and had taken them to the Promised Land of plenty. And Jabez believed that this same God wanted to take his ordinary life and make it extraordinary.
In God’s power, with God’s hand upon him.
The Power of the Father’s touch. Maybe you don’t feel it right now. Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve felt the hand of the Father and felt a peace in your soul knowing His hand was upon you. But haven’t you known it before? Haven’t you felt it in a parent who stayed up all night while you were sick, or a friend who stood beside you when all hope seemed to vanish? Haven’t you felt it in a hand holding yours at a difficult moment? Or in a prayer for healing and comfort?
If we stop long enough to look up, we can each remember that at one time or another recently we have all felt the Father’s touch, a touch we need to feel again today. For there’s power in His touch to carry us into new opportunities and renewing, refreshing rain and the blue skies of promise which follow.
And so there we stood at the edge of the rope bridge, with me just behind Hannah as she looked back and forth across the length of that intimidating expanse of rope bridge. In a moment she looked back with a knowing glance over her shoulder at me, and then reached up toward me—in a gesture which asked her Granddaddy to help her, to touch her—to put my hand upon her.
And so taking both of her hands in mine, she did something she’d never done before. With my touch, and dependent upon my power, which she trusted because of her past experiences with me—together we enlarged her territory and crossed the rope bridge together.
What rope bridges are you standing before today? He is there to help you across into the sunshine of a brand new day.
Just look back, reach back, and take His hand.
In His Name—Scott
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