I try to incorporate faith every day, to not remind myself of past failures, to learn how to forgive and to trust the future.
- Vanessa Williams
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. (Psalm 28:7)
Years ago, on a spring day, I sat on my grandparents’ porch. Mamo was on a rocker next to me, and Papo puttered around his side yard. Samuel was a six-month-old baby, and he clapped his hands and cooed on my lap.
“He’s a beautiful boy,” Mamo said.
We’d waited a long time to conceive a baby. Samuel was an answer to many years of prayer.
“Would you like to hold him?” I asked.
Mamo could never resist a baby. I carried Samuel to my grandmother, and soon he was on her lap, charming her with his warm ways. He wrapped a plump hand around her curled fingers and smiled a shiny, toothless grin.
We sat together for quite a long time, then Mamo called to my grandfather, who was tinkering in the garage. “Daddy,” she called. “You have to hold this baby. Come and hold this sweet young man.”
Papo emerged from the garage and walked across the yard, and I looked at the empty chair next to me. But my grandfather didn’t climb the stairs. He came near the railing, stopped, raised his arms, and looked up. “Hand him here, Mama,” he said. “I’ll take the little guy for a walk around the yard.”
And to my horror my grandmother wrapped her arm around Sam’s middle and stood.
My mama-heart beat hard. My skin went warm. The back of my neck prickled. The red-flag danger alerts were physical. But then something in my spirit echoed loud. I could almost hear the words: It’s OK. He’ll be alright. I’ve got him. He’s in my hand.
With every fiber, I wanted to intercept my baby. I wanted to put my hands on him and make him safe. But I knew that something precious was happening. Generations had passed between those hands. Love and time and children. I sat still, gripped the arms of my rocker, and whispered a prayer. He’s yours, Lord. Thank you for holding him in your hands.
That day on my grandparents’ porch was long ago. Mamo and Papo are in heaven now. And Samuel is a preteen. But the prayer? The standing-hands-open, the Lord-help-my-child prayer–it remains the same. The circumstances are different now. And the pleas stretch five children wide. Lord, lead my son as he finishes college. Father, draw a son’s heart to you. Please bring solid, strong friends to surround one of my boys. Lord, keep a son safe. Father, help a son practice self-control. The prayers of relinquish, a surrender to the true hands that hold my boys, comes from the same heart.
And he loves them even more than I do. The hands are faithful and strong. And the giving, the lifting my sons to the Lord, brings rest and peace.
Mamo balanced against the side of the railing that day, and Papo reached and placed time-worn hands around my sweet babe. A child passed between them, like so many times before. And in a moment, Samuel was peeping over Papo’s shoulder, eyes shining and head bobbing as the two of them traipsed across the yard. Papo whispered to him as they walked and stopped, talking, I’m guessing, about blooms on the apple tree and the plot of rich river soil where his garden would soon be.
And I sat back, breathed deep and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. There was comfort in God’s presence, and the way he had held my son.
Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.
Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications. She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward. But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.