When my children were small, I rarely ventured out in public without holding their hand. Placing that little hand inside mine secured a peace in me as I knew they were safe beside me. I also knew if that tight grip was broken, my child could easily wander away and get lost, which would have been terrifying for both of us.
I still shudder when I recall a scary scenario. Betsy was two when my sister, Colleen, came into town with her baby. As we headed out for a shopping trip, I loaned my stroller to Colleen. The store overflowed with shoppers and, for one very brief moment, Betsy’s hand broke loose from mine. It only took a second for her curiosity to lead her away from me and out of sight. The salespeople, and the shoppers close by, soon encountered a panic-stricken mom. With fear gripping my heart, I yelled Betsy’s name over and over. Within seconds she was found, but the terrifying thoughts haunted me for quite some time. Suffice it to say, the safest place for a child is right beside the one who loves them the most.
Today, we will take this truth into the spiritual realm. Let me remind you: no matter how big you are, you are still a child—God’s child. He is your Father and He has taken hold of your hand. To truly understand this wonderful aspect of God’s presence, think back to a time in your childhood when a parent, grandparent, or adult you trusted held your hand. Remember the feeling?
Our study comes from Exodus 23:20-33. Please read this passage of Scripture.
According to verse 20, how did God prove His presence to His people?
What was the angel’s purpose?
The Israelites had been camped in the wilderness just a short time when God sent this promise to them. If I formed my own words based on this promise, it might sound like this:
“You are My people and I love you with My whole heart. I know the path will be difficult at times. But I love you and I am walking with you. I’m holding you by the hand. Pay attention to what I’m telling you. Please don’t let go. Let Me be your Father. Let Me help you. I never want us to be separated, so you need to hold tightly to My hand. Please understand that My everlasting love for you can never be broken.”
Holding God’s hand at all times is not easy, is it? God offered the promise in Exodus 23, but the people had a responsibility. Skim over verses 20-33 again. Write out five things they were commanded to do.
Relate these words to holding tight to God’s hand.
Fill in the blanks from Exodus 23:21:
“Pay _________________ to _____________ and ______________ to what he ________________.”
When I was growing up, we lived on a busy street. As any parent would do, my parents were concerned with safety so they set down some stringent rules for their children. One rule, of course, was not to venture near the street.
One summer day when my sister was about four, my mom walked outside to find her sitting on the curb, dangling her little legs in the street. With a racing heart, mom ran and grabbed Lori and punished her for disobedience. At the same time, she was overcome with numb weakness.
You see, my mom could envision what my sister couldn’t. Mom was the parent and my sister, the child. God is your Father and you are His child. He can see things you cannot. This is why God extends His hand toward you and me. Let’s make sure we walk side-by-side with Him, holding His hand, and never letting go. Let’s make a conscious decision to always obey His command to not venture too close to the street.
Sometimes, along this journey, it seems the waters keep rising until we are swirling beneath them. In this case, what does Psalm 18:16 tell us about God?
Here is the mental picture I get as I read this verse: I’m sinking fast. The water continues to rise and I keep sinking until I’m fully submerged beneath the surface. Every time I come up for air, an undercurrent pulls me down again. Eventually, I wear myself out. Completely exhausted, I struggle to stay afloat. I surface and gasp for air one last time. But this time, as I open my eyes, I see a big hand, palms opened, extended toward me. I hear a deep yet gentle voice say, “Grab on.” So without a second to spare, I lift my heavy arm out of the water. Trembling, I place my hand in this amazing hand of strength. Then I feel myself being pulled out of the water and placed safely on dry ground.
To me, this is a picture of the powerful hand of God and why it is absolutely vital we grab on when He’s extending it toward us. Those waters could be anything; His hand is the life preserver that serves to keep us afloat.
Look up Psalm 73:23 and fill in the blanks:
“Yet I am always ______________ you; you ______________ me by my right ________________.”
Psalm 23 is a favorite chapter for many believers. Read this chapter and write some key words or phrases that speak of how God walks side-by-side with you, holding your hand.
Now, draw a picture or illustrate with descriptive words, you and God walking side-by-side. What does the environment look like, based on Psalm 23?
I think every believer should memorize this short chapter. I find such comfort in remembering I have a Shepherd who always goes ahead of me, and who takes care of every need, especially when I am in the desert. In our next lesson, we will look more intently at our Good Shepherd.
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Have a blessed week…