Monday, September 10, 2012

Playground Lesson 6 – Slide – God's Helping Hand

A tiny two-year-old girl with dark brown eyes and soft dark curls is with her mommy at the playground. She is making her first attempt at playing on the slide ... the littlest one, of course. Her mommy is right there behind her making sure she doesn't fall off the ladder. As soon as the little girl is safely seated at the top, her mommy goes to the other side, with her hand always on her precious child. With her hands around she child's chest, the mommy helps the little tyke slide to the bottom. Wheeeee! She then sweeps the giggling toddler up into a big hug.

"Again, Mommy, again!" the child begs.

Back they go, again and again. Each time, the little one needs less help going up the slide. 

It might not happen that same day, but eventually, the mommy will be able to stand at the bottom of the slide ready to catch her daughter as she reaches the bottom. 

Sooner or later, the day will come when the little one won't need anyone to catch her at the bottom of the slide. She can brave taller and taller slides on her own, landing on her feet at the bottom nearly every time. 

All the while, her mother is watching, ready to help and heal if the landing at the bottom ends in scraped elbows and knees.

Let's fast-forward a few years. The little girl is now a tall leggy twelve-year-old with laughing brown eyes and a contagious zest for life. She is at the playground with her little brother who is just learning to climb the slide. Their mother is nearby, but for now, big sister is helping initiate little brother into the joys of the slide.

Just like her mother had done for her ten years before, big sister stands behind her brother as he climbs the slide, making sure he doesn't fall. Keeping her hand on him, she moves to the other side and helps him swoop to the bottom. Wheeeee! She scoops him up into a big hug and they laugh together for the sheer joy of it all.

"Again, Sissy, again!"

So they do it again and again until things come full circle and little brother can handle the slide himself.

Mother is always right there ready to pick her child up if he happens to land on his backside instead of his feet. She has taught her daughter well, though, and big sister is able to give her brother the encouragement he needs.

I think God does this with us, too.  When we are brand-new in the family of God, and we face unknown, scary challenges, He is right there with us, close by. Sometimes we may sense Him in a very tangible way even though we don't see Him. Other times, He reaches out to us through the helping hand of one of His other children who help us conquer increasingly tall and scary "slides" in our lives. 

Of course, if the "slide" we just went down in real life was an especially difficult or painful experience, we probably don't say, "Again, God, again!".  Even so, having gone through the experience once, we usually are stronger and more able to handle the next one that comes along. The fact that our Heavenly Father is always near with a helping hand is a great comfort and encouragement in times like those.

As we learn how to handle these challenges, we come full circle. Eventually, we will be the ones to help another of God's kids conqueror their own "slides".

All the while, our Heavenly Father is right there. He enjoys watching His kids grow and learn and conquer. 

He delights in seeing His big kids help His little kids on the slides of life. He loves watching them reach out to others with the same gentleness and care that He Himself would give. 

For the times when His kids, big or small, land on their proverbial backsides, His helping, healing hand is never far away. 

He stays nearby because He knows that no matter how big we get, from time to time, we still need Him to catch us at the bottom of the slide.

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