Last week we had a visit from a friend who brought along her eighteen month old daughter – Amelia. She was an absolute poppet but refused to leave her mother’s side, watching me curiously from a distance. After a while I approached Amelia and asked if she’d like a tour of the house? I didn’t expect her to understand but could see she was tempted by my proposition, as I held out an encouraging hand. Suddenly, she took a diminutive step forward and placed her tiny palm in mine, signalling her agreement.

As I led Amelia up the staircase I noticed her straining to stretch her little legs to mount the steep steps. The exertion quickly tired her and when she paused to take a breath, I took the opportunity to change position and placed myself directly behind her. By taking hold of each of her hands I was able to provide a natural springboard to help lift her off the ground. Soon we reached the top and took our time to leisurely explore each room until Amelia indicated it was time to return downstairs by whispering, “Mama”. Again I led her by the hand and when we reached the top of the staircase I noticed her hesitate as she considered the descent. I promptly stepped in front of her and held out my hands asking if she’d like to be carried and she immediately responded by raising her arms. In an instant I scooped her up and delivered her safely to her mother.

Later I reflected on this marvellous metaphor for a relationship with God. Amelia represented mankind and I had unwittingly taken the role of God. When Amelia had taken my outstretched hand, she was placing her trust in me. She didn’t know what lay ahead but was a willing accomplice because she felt safe. Her implicit faith in me enabled her to pursue her curiosity and she was encouraged and supported throughout our little excursion. But what struck me most was not how Amelia felt about me, but how I felt about Amelia. The spontaneous and unbridled love that rose effortlessly from within me, alongside a determination to engage her in life’s wonders whilst keeping her safe and protected. I realised this was how God felt about us and how it delighted Him when we had the courage to take His outstretched hand and walk in faith.

Like all spiritual messages it was perfectly timed. I was on the cusp of leaving a solid thirty-year career as a lawyer and sailing into unchartered territory, oscillating between excitement and terror. I couldn’t explain this radical change in direction to myself, let alone my family. Yet I knew God was leading me. I had taken His outstretched hand and was blind to where it would lead because I had faith. I was living my faith by treating life as an adventure taken with God. Naturally there were moments when I was overwhelmed with panic and doubt. What was I thinking? What was I doing? Where would it end? I didn’t have the answers. All I had was trust and at a key moment, God sent Amelia to drive the message home.

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