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In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

You probably don’t remember this, but if you know how to walk today it’s because you learned the ability to ‘walk-a-by-self’. A friend of mine tells the story of her very independent toddler daughter. Just after she learned to walk she was very determined to show her independence. Mom tried to pick her up but she refused. She wanted to ‘walk-a-by-self’. Mom put her down and tried to hold her hand, but she pulled away and announced to the world: “WALK-A-BY-SELF!”, and so…she did, with mom close beside her to guard her steps.

We chuckle from time to time about the pseudo-independence our toddlers show with those first steps. Oh, at first they are pretty shaky and unsteady but then, the reach that point where the fear is gone and we realize there is a whole new world to explore and we attack it with gusto!

We tend to be the same way in our spiritual lives. We are confident in our own abilities to do life. We show our freedom from the rules by making choices that put us in danger. We choose relationships based on looks or status rather than seeking Gods direction. We spend freely, eat poorly, and ‘love’ openly. Sometimes that gets us in trouble. We charge on without any awareness whatsoever of our parents presence and get lost. We run to fast and stumble and fall. We meet the coffee table head-on (yes it was a pun, but so very true), all the while thinking God is nowhere to be seen.

Our Heavenly Father knows that we need to have the freedom to walk on our own. He knows it builds strength and confidence. He knows it allows us the opportunity to develop the gifts, talents and abilities He planned for us to have.

Our Father also knows that we will fall. As in the physical life, we will end up with bruised knees and an occasional bloody nose. Sometimes we’ll require stitches and need to be picked up and comforted. Sometimes we’ll look Him square in the eye and announce: “walk-a-by-self!” We’ll wander and get ourselves in a whole variety of predicaments, but we will never be outside his protective grasp.

The analogy of a rebellious two-year old falls short in one area though. Our Heavenly Father knows we’ll stumble and fall, but we will never be out of reach of His strong and powerful arms. We are never out of sight of His wise, discerning eyes. We never really ‘walk-a-by-self’ when we walk with Jesus. He’s always there. Always faithful, always willing to let us have the freedom to choose, and always willing to pick us up when we stray from Him and need His healing arms around us.

It doesn’t matter where you have strayed or what choices you’ve made, or where you find yourself in life today. Jesus Christ longs to hold you in His arms of forgiveness and grace so that you may be comforted and strengthened to walk again.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. The Bible tells me I can call you ‘Daddy’. Thank you that like a caring, compassionate and wise father you allow me the freedom to walk-a-by-self. Thank you that through Jesus Christ I can be forgiven when my walking gets me in trouble. Thank you for the healing salve of your grace. I ask today that you would help me up, for I’ve stumbled once again, and empower me by your Spirit to walk with you. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.

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