The children from the missionary training had piled into the back of Gustavo’s pickup truck for a ride to the end of the lane. Though they had enjoyed the ride, they knew it was now time for the LONG (not really) walk back.
Little Micah came to me with shoulders hunched over and in his cutest 6-year-old-voice he told me “My legs are too tired to walk back.” I chuckled at him while Satomi suggested that if he couldn’t walk then maybe he could run. But he wasn’t buying it. “That’s more tiring than walking!” he exclaimed. And there he stood, determined not to take a single step.
“Do you want me to carry you?” I asked him. His face immediately brightened (as if he wasn’t FULLY expecting me to offer.) He jumped up and down and squealed with excitement when I told him I would put him on my shoulders.
I moved him to stand in front of me and instructed him to jump high so that I could hoist him up.
“One, two, THREE!” And up he went. He squealed again, but this time in fear rather than excitement.
The anticipated adventure had suddenly turned uncomfortably scary.
The moment his bottom landed on my shoulders, he clutched his arms around my chin with a death grip. I could feel the tension surging through his body.
“It’s really high up here!” he shouted. “You sure you can hold me? Am I going to fall?” he asked, his voice shaky. His feet dug into my armpits, and for a brief moment I considered putting him down. But I knew he was safe; I knew I had him, even if he wasn’t so sure. And so we continued on.
As we walked forward slowly, I reassured him. “I have you, Micah. You’re okay.” I put my hands on his back, holding him as tightly as he was holding me, not of necessity, but for his own peace of mind.
“Look at those trees!” I said, trying to draw his attention away from his fear. “Do things look different up there?” I asked.
“Ummm, yeah they do,” he answered. “I can see a lot from way up here.” We continued to walk forward and I felt his grip begin to relax. “Can you see all the way to the beautiful lake?” I asked.
He hesitantly removed one hand from my chin and pointed to it. “I can see really far. I think I like being up here!”
We laughed together.
I could feel his body slowly relaxing. He slouched down and rested his chin on top of my head, his arms wagging loose. Gradually his feet came out from under my arms.
“You can let go of my back,” he said, “I know I won’t fall now.” With that, he began to direct me to walk this way and that. Once again he was happy, he was comfortable, and he felt safe.
In that moment, Micah showed me something about transitions, and taught me a little more about God.
On Monday morning, I said farewell to Micah and his family and fifteen other missionary families. All of us are in the midst of transitions. We’re feeling excitement and fear and anxiety. There might even be some clutching and grasping, and probably lots of questions.
So my prayer for you Micah, Jin, and Kay; Reina, Serena, Andrew, and Janice; Jonathon, Satomi, and Yuka; Keihwan and Misook; Lily, Gustavo, Lilia, and Savi; Joanne; Janet; Luis Daniel; Lulu; Jean Paul; Carmen; Erica; Tazionepi; Sonia, and Quest is this:
May this time make you squeal with excitement and jump up and down. But when you clasp on in fear- may God reassure you with his strong arms and magnificent love. May your time of anxiety pass quickly. And may you very soon find yourself resting your chin, knowing you’re safe, and enjoying your new view.