Numbers 6:25-26 (New International Version)
25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '
The wind rustled the trees that surrounded the farmhouse. A little six year old girl looked up at them, the breeze teasing loose wisps of blond hair from her neat braids. Squinting her blue eyes against the morning sun, she watched the branches swaying lazily back and forth, back and forth.
Her school bag bounced on her back as she skipped down the long laneway to meet her school bus. She was a little early as she always liked to be there in good time, waiting when the bus arrived.
But this morning something was different as she got close to the end of her driveway. She saw a huge transport truck standing still, right at the end, like a beast of prey, waiting. From her vantage point, she couldn't see the man inside, but she knew he was there, and her heart stood still. She was immobilized with fear. Who was this stranger? Was he waiting there for her? Her heart was in her throat and her stomach lurched with panic as she quickly turned, urging her trembling legs to run as fast as they would go, back to the farmhouse!
The laneway was long, and she didn't dare to look back to see if anyone was coming after her; she ran, praying that God would help her get back to the house.
Weak with relief she arrived at the farmhouse door and grasped the handle. Pushing at it hard, she opened it and burst back into the kitchen she had left only moments before.
At the table in the middle of the warm kitchen sat her father. All was suddenly so peaceful in contrast to the raw fear and adrenaline that had propelled the child back to this place. He looked up in surprise from his breakfast, and listened to his child's tale of the truck at the end of the laneway. His lined, Dutch farmer's face was so calm and capable as his eyes looked kindly on his little daughter. He rose from the table and took her hand; her small hand, in his big, strong, farmer's hand, and then he walked down the laneway with her.
She felt suddenly so safe and secure that a convoy of transport trucks would not have frightened her.
It was an experience she never forgot. Even when she was as old as her father had been when she was six, she remembered his big capable hand folded around hers; and it was ever after a picture of God's Fatherhood for her.
I have a picture of two hands that rest on white robed knees. One is turned upwards in invitation, and the other outstretched, beckons, "Come." I bought it for my Tante Cor, who lived in Holland, and after she died, my Dutch cousins made sure it came back to me. She often said, as she endured her final battle with cancer, "I know in whose hands I am."
And we both knew they were safe hands.
When my heart is overwhelmed and in turmoil he is waiting for my cry, ready to take my hand in his.
Matthew 14:27 (New International Version)
27But Jesus immediately said to them:
"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."