While headed towards a mediation in New York City last week, I looked out the window of the car that I was in to see a Dad and son walk out of their apartment building. The Dad was carrying a briefcase and obviously was on his way to work. The boy, who was probably about nine or ten (the same age as my son), had one of those roller backpacks and was pulling it behind him. Within a few seconds, the Dad was well ahead and I heard the boy yell "Dad" to get him to slow down and wait. Traffic moved slowly and I watched them walk up the block. The Dad always about thirty feet ahead and the son trudging along behind. It was kind of sad.
I thought about myself and my interaction with my son. The number of times that I just keep pushing ahead with him trailing behind. The number of times that I yell for him to hurry up. It is time to go. Get your shoes on. We have to go. Get your stuff. We are going to be late. Come on. I'm going out to the car now.
The Dad continued up the block ahead of his son (and ahead of me in the car - love that traffic), until he came to the corner. The light was green in the right direction, the Dad could cross. But, his son was still too far behind. Of course he didn't cross, he waited for the boy. And, when his son caught up at the corner, Dad didn't complain. He didn't look mad or annoyed, he just started talking to his son. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but from the looks on their faces, I imagined something along the lines of "what is going on in school today" or "it sure is a nice morning."
My view of the situation changed. It was no longer sad - it was just a Dad doing what a parent has to do sometimes. Pushing their kid towards where they need to go. Leading them, gently pulling them along. When it got to where it was dangerous, Dad waited to be side-by-side to help.
I thought about all of this again this weekend. At one point during a prayer at church, the pastor said "may we walk close enough to You to be covered by the dust from Your sandals." In my own walk following Jesus, I thought about how often I am like that boy on the street, or like my own son. How often I am saying "just a minute" or "can I just finish this" or "I'll be there in a second" or "I don't want to go, I want to stay here." But He is always leading, gently pulling, doing what it takes to move me along. Sometimes I get distracted and He is thirty feet ahead of me, or walking just outside - never actually walking away, but showing me that I am letting the distance between us grow greater. But, when it comes to the dangerous parts, to the places where I have to cross that road in New York City, He waits to hold my hand and help me across.
Just like I always hope that my son will be ready when it is time to go and we can just walk together out to the car, or where ever we need to go, I know that God always hopes that I will be walking with Him. And, though I often fail and let that distance grow too great, I know that I long to always walk in that place of comfort and safety close enough to Jesus that I can hold His hand and be covered by the dust from his sandals.
Psalm 23 seems particularly appropriate this morning:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."