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The Father’s Arms

Deuteronomy 1:29-31

“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’”

Sometimes the inspired, biblical authors deliver a gift of words so illustrative and vibrant that you can’t help but run with them. Sometimes a metaphor is so deep and rich in meaning that it defies the constraints of literary and historical context, which is certainly the case in this analogy Moses chooses here for describing God’s faithful and abiding care for these pilgrims. This transcendent yet earthy analogy of God carrying His people “as a father carries his son” invites us into a context of reflection all its own. How does a loving father carry his son? In just one way, in one singular sense, or in a vast range of ways?

When I arrive home after a long day at work, my son often runs to the door to greet me, shouting excitedly, “Daddy’s home!”, and then jumps into my arms gleefully. It reminds me of the way my own father used to get down on his knees when I was a kid and let me climb all over his back. In that context, God carries His children in play, with laughter, tossing us up in the air as it were, and offering his back and shoulders to our childish whimsy.

There are other times, however, like on hikes in the mountains, or after an injury, when my son complains that he’s too tired or too hurt to walk. He doesn’t heave himself into my arms in play, but rather in fatigue and agony, and I carry him even though it hurts. In that sense, God carries His children as a responsibility, bearing the weight of our weakness on His back and shoulders because He’s gracious enough to keep walking when we can’t.

Child of God, whether you run to your Father today in play or in anguish, don’t be indifferent to those heavenly arms that continue to hold you fast in that special bond of fatherly love.