Several years ago, I was with my family in New York City on the Fourth of July. We were planning to take our children to see the fireworks over the East River, but we were quite nervous about it. There had been a bombing in France just days before and there were concerns about attacks on large crowds so soon after.
But the event was going on as planned, and my husband and I were determined not to let fear guide our lives. As we made our way toward FDR Drive, the police presence was as unnerving as it was comforting. Though three of our four children were already young adults, we herded them all closely, a mother hen and her brood maneuvering through the crowded streets and up the ramp to the highway that had been closed for viewing the fireworks.
I held the hand of our youngest child, who was 14 or 15 years old at the time, with a vice grip, determined not to let anyone or anything separate her from me. I was on constant alert, keeping my children in my sight, scanning the horizon for dangers and trouble, leading my youngest through the sea of people to a place where she could be at peace and enjoy the festivities.
God calls us to a life of faith, not fear. In the midst of life’s difficulties, “through many dangers, toils and snares” as “Amazing Grace” reminds us, God keeps a grip on our hand and leads us to all the places we need to go. There we can know God’s peace and experience God’s mercy and grace. There we can celebrate the wonder of who God is and of all that God has created.
As the frantic activity of the holiday season begins to subside, take time to reflect on all the ways that God has led you, provided for you, and protected you this past year. How will you take hold of God’s hand and trust God even more in the days ahead?
To you we lift our eyes, O God, you who are enthroned in the heavens! You who are faithful, have mercy upon us. Amen.