I recall so well the directive to my children when they were small about holding onto my hand as we were shopping, crossing a street, or parking lot. At that time, they were unaware of the potential dangers in such places if their little hands were not firmly in my grasp.
Children are curious and it can be easy to wander away and lose track of where a parent is.
I saw my children have the same rule for their children, my grandchildren. As with me, this was a non-negotiable rule. The risks were too great not to insist on it.
I recall once when my daughter was near me in a store and I did not hold her hand. It was one of those clothing stores with “rounder’s” here and there with clothes hanging on them as well as the usual shelves and racks along the wall. She was weary of my looking through the racks and plunked herself down on the floor. Suddenly, I realized she was not beside me and I could not immediately find her under the racks of clothing. The panic I felt was enormous.
That kind of environment is a bit like being in a cornfield. It seems simple enough when you walk into the cornfield, but soon you realize you have no orientation about where you are or which way to walk in which row to be able to get back to where you started. (Yes, I experienced that as a girl living on a farm. It’s amazing how easily it can happen!)
An even scarier memory was when we were visiting our son and his family one fall. We had all gone into their small town for a fall festival. The streets were filled with vendors celebrating the season as well as various stalls and tents with games for children of all ages to explore.
We were all having a great time and enjoying the music, food, and celebration when we suddenly realized our grandson was not with us. The streets had been closed to traffic and there were crowds of people everywhere. We had no idea where to look for him. Each of us fanned out, began looking and calling out his name.
I cannot recall how long it took us to locate him, but it felt like a lifetime. When we found him, he was perched on a set of risers that had been set up where a concert was going to take place. The musicians were warming up and he was sitting there calmly listening.
It reminded me of what Mary and Joseph must have felt when they realized Jesus was not with them as they were on their way home from Jerusalem.
A good grip is crucial many times to our safety, but what are you holding onto?
I have a vivid memory of walking down our basement steps a few years ago with a good grip on more hanging clothes than I should have been trying to carry. I am notorious for trying to carry a lot of things so I don’t need to make so many trips whether it is bringing things in from the car or something like this scene.
You know how steps in your house can be. You have a certain muscle memory for how far you step between each one so you don’t even have to think about it or even look (or so it seems).
So I wasn’t thinking or looking and could not see with the armful of clothing I had, I was not even afraid it was an unwise decision. On this day, however, I misjudged which step I was on and skipped the last step and landed on the floor crying out in pain from what was a very badly sprained ankle.
It is not just when we are young that we need a good grip. It happens also when we are older and perhaps less steady on our feet or not as strong to maintain a good balance.
There is something else we must hold fast to as well that is no less crucial than a parent’s hand or a handrail. Failing to do so can be no less deadly.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us in the second chapter that we are to be careful about what we have heard regarding our salvation so we don’t drift away from it.
You see, when we have received gospel truths into our minds, we can let them slip away from us. Our minds can be like a leaky vessel. The entanglements with the world, snares of the enemy, and neglect can allow the good things of the gospel to slip from our minds, our practices, our choices, and our behaviors.
As I checked out the Message version of Hebrews 2:1, I was reminded of the many examples I have already listed above:
“It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.” Heb. 2:1 (The Message)
Life is busy.
We can get distracted.
We can let go of our Father’s hand, drift away, and not realize where we are.
How is your grip?