We visited family in Utah last week. The drive there and back is always a long one, particularly for the children. Gabe turned one on this vacation, and being such a little guy, lacks the understanding necessary to cope well with being cooped up for a fourteen hour drive.
We do everything we can to make the time pass pleasantly, often driving through the night in hopes that they will sleep through the bulk of it. Chris and I, as parents, sacrifice a lot of what would make the drive pleasant for us to keep them happy. We start the drive at 2am so they can sleep. We listen to media and noisy toys that they find entertaining. We spend a little extra money on games and treats top keep them occupied. We stop at restaurants with play places, regardless of the desirability of their food. We do our best.
Even with all these accommodations in place, it is hardest on the baby. During this particular drive Gabe began to cry. I reached my hand back into his seat, and stroked his soft cheek. He quickly grabbed onto my hand, holding it with his tiny fingers and pressed it to his face and chest. His crying ceased immediately. He held my hand for miles and miles. He couldn’t see my face, and I’m sure my voice felt far away, but he had my hand. He knew I was there, and he was comforted.
As I sat there, twisted awkwardly in my seat, I couldn’t help but see a comparison between this parent/child relationship and the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven. We are all on a journey here in mortality. Sometimes we roll along, happily preoccupied with the many blessings he has given us, so preoccupied in fact, that we often don’t even give thanks. Sometimes we see the fun and the adventure, and we are comfortable in our seats and happy to be on the journey. And sometimes, the road is hard and long, and we are tired and alone and afraid, and we need Him. We need to know that He is there, and feel His divine presence, to be reassured that everything will be alright.
It was uncomfortable to extend my arm to Gabe. I get motion sick when I face backward, and with my arm twisted behind me the muscles cramped and my hand went to pins and needles. Every so often I had to withdraw my arm, just to renew the circulation. Inevitably, when I would do this, Gabe would become nervous and he would cry again. I would reach back, over and over, doing the best I could to keep him soothed.
How wonderful is it that the arm of the Lord is continually extended to us? Our Father in Heaven gave us His strength and soothing power to carry with us always, so that when our journeys in mortality became too rough, we always have a hand to hold. He is there, lifting, strengthening, reaching out to us with His perfect peace, so that no matter what we have to endure, we can do so with His help.
The only question then is this: Are we willing to take His hand?