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Lessons from A Backyard Swing

I am not always right in my expectations of things, but once in a while I get it right. I expected that Christmas would be loads of fun with Raegan and I was absolutely right! At three years old, she was at the perfect age to enjoy the lights, beautifully wrapped boxes, and all the festivities. And her excitement continues. She likes to go out to the shed to see the Santa Claus that I purposely stored in such a way that she can see it, and if she asks just right Papa will take it down so she can touch it. And on the really good days he might even plug it in so that it will light up.

Among the gifts that she got from her mother and daddy was her very first swing set—complete with two swings, a fort, and a sliding board. It was delivered in a crate with dozens of pieces that had to be put together, so it was not much good to her on Christmas day, but eventually her daddy—along with a little help from Papa—finally got it assembled for her enjoyment out in the backyard. Gale and I went over a few days ago to watch her having the time of her life as she ran back and forth between the swing and the slide. As Papa pushed her in the swing she was all smiles—and Papa smiled a little, too!

She has no idea that the world that we live in is full of turmoil and that there are threats of all kinds at nearly every turn that we make in life. All she needs to do is keep doing what she’s doing and not becoming stressed about the uncertainties of our world because she has parents to deal with all those kinds of things.

If we as adults could grasp that kind of assurance and confidence in God to take care of those things we have no control over, life would be much more pleasant and fulfilling. There is no doubt that we have responsibilities that we must take care, but when it comes down to it it is God Who provides, guides, and protects. Like children leaving their worries to loving parents, we as followers of God are to humbly trust Him to take care of our needs and concerns. Christ reminds us of the extreme value of having child-like trust in God: “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4, New International Version).

An often quoted verse of the Bible is found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” What gracious words of encouragement! And when we consider the context in which these words were originally given, it makes them even more reassuring. It was a time when the Jewish people were in deep trouble because of their refusal to heed the warning that God sent to them by the prophet Jeremiah. Yet in the midst of the turmoil and discipline, God gave them words of hope just as a loving parent would to a wayward child. The goal was their restoration and not destruction, and in His time and in His way He brought it to pass. He loves us and has a plan for us today as well.
Raegan has no worries—she knows her family will take good care of her. And even when she has to be corrected, she still knows their love for her is unshakeable and that they have good plans for her.

Among the goals that we set for ourselves this year, we will do well to include entrusting our cares and concerns to the Lord. When we put that into practice life becomes less stressful and more fulfilling.