by Barbara Duffield
“You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful to me” (Psalm 139:5-6).
As a young mother raising three boys, I had a habit of walking with my hand resting on the back of the neck of my youngest son when we were anywhere away from home. By the age of seven, he was very vocal in his dislike of that touch, and yet it was so comforting to me to know where he was (he was a “wanderer” from the day he first learned to walk) that I continued to do it until he got so tall I couldn’t reach his neck.
As I read this Psalm recently, I wondered if my son’s reaction might not have been similar to my reaction toward God in my younger years. I wanted to go where I wanted to go, without the gentle touch of His hand guiding me. I wanted to follow my own path, traveling wherever my inclination led me. It was annoying at times to recognize that gentle whisper of a touch that told me I was not following God’s direction.
Today, with decades separating us from those years of child-rearing, my son is much more willing to accept my hand on him, though I can no longer comfortably rest my hand on his neck. Similarly, I am much more sensitive to the touch of God. I seek His guidance and direction in life, at least most of the time, and treasure those moments when I sense His presence close to me. That touch is a promise of protection and love, of leadership and guidance that is available to me if I am willing to accept it.
The beauty of that gift of love, which is mine for the accepting, is one that I can’t earn. It’s a gift that is mine because He loves me – it’s grace. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t understand it, but I know that it is true.
So Father, please rest your hand on my neck and direct me to follow the path you call me to. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.
Barbara Duffield is an assistant in the Communications Department of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.