Friday, October 23, 2020

Hanging On Regardless

Hanging On Regardless

I have an aversion to just standing on an escalator. I can’t simply step onto it and wait for it to carry me upwards like a departing soul to heaven. I have to be active, to stretch the leg muscles and the lungs, to prove my fitness, to make the most of every minute, to redeem the time because the days are evil.
If I’m ascending, I climb up the steps. If I’m descending, I climb down the steps. I can’t just stand there.
The other day I was shopping in the city mall and found myself having to take a series of escalators to the fifth floor. There was a lift, but lifts (up the fifth floor, anyway) are to be avoided if one is to live a hale and hearty life.
I negotiated the first two floors successfully, although not uneventfully. I had to interpose myself between a young man and a young woman eating ice creams without either spoiling my shirt, destroying their snacks or distracting them from their preoccupation with each other. In reality, I doubt if they even noticed me.
Then there was a man with two bulging plastic bags. He was enormous, potentially threatening, with swarthy skin and powerful muscles. But he proved to be surprisingly gentle when I invited him to let me pass, leaning like the tower of Pisa to the left so I could lever myself safely through on the right.
Finally there was a stooping, elderly lady, whose shaking fingers with their delicate rice-paper skin gripped the moving rail tightly to ensure that she kept her feet. I managed to step nimbly around her without threatening her balance.
Then came the third level. I was just about to go higher when a young mother with a baby in a pusher and a pre-school daughter with a ponytail slipped in front of me. I thought about pushing past but hesitated, not wanting to cause the little one to stumble.
Nevertheless, still itching to climb higher, I considered possible manoeuvres. Maybe when we reached the next floor I could circumnavigate this tiny fleet and sail on more quickly. My strategy was simple. While the mother steered her course safely through the hazards of this new shore, I would leap like Solomon’s stag to the next escalator and skip ahead.
We reached the fourth floor. The mother deftly swung the pusher around in front of me and the little girl followed. She had hold of her mother’s blouse with a vice-like grip. Her little fingers were clenched tight and it was obvious she had no intention of letting go. My strategy proved useless.
I stood patiently behind them all the way to the fifth floor. The toddler did not relax her grip for one second. I watched her tiny hand closely. She was hanging on so tightly only an earthquake could have prised her loose. She was relaxed. She chatted brightly to her Mum. She wasn’t afraid of the escalator or the people or the noise around her. She was confident and courageous. And she held on regardless.
She knew she was on to a good thing and she wasn’t going to give it up for anyone. Her mother did not need to hold her or warn her. Those tiny fingers gripped that blouse with a life-saving intensity and trust that were unflinching.
They walked on—both mother and daughter oblivious to my staring—and went their way. But I was left thinking about the strength and reassurance that little girl gained from her mother.
These are qualities we need, too. In the bustling and hustling of life, it is good to know that we have Someone much stronger than ourselves, someone who, like that mother, knows where he is going and can safely take us with him. When we are faced with trauma or grief or pain or disappointment, he is there. I remembered how Jesus said we should become like little children (Matthew 18:3; 19:14). All we have to do is to trust him—to hang on regardless.
When I was a boy we used to sing,
He loves, he saves, he keeps, he satisfies
This longing heart of mine,
He fills my life to overflowing
With his joy and peace divine;
He guides, he guards, he watches over me,
He slumbers not nor sleeps,
For he is my glorious Saviour,
And he loves, he saves, he keeps.
(William M. Runyan)
I thought then that this song contained pretty good theology and I still think so now. And that little girl was a pretty good theologian too, although she didn’t know it. I hope she never forgets to keep her fingers gripped tightly to the source of her salvation.

Barry Chant

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Barry Chant is a regular speaker at church services, seminars, conferences and conventions. Hundreds of thousands of his books have been sold around the world. He has degrees in arts, theology and ministry, a diploma in education and a PhD in history. He was the co-founder and former president of Tabor College, Australia.

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