When God is Like a Big, Fluffy Towel



Standing at the water’s edge with the big fluffy towel is one of the perks of being Gram. I can wrap Raymond from head to toe in warmth and snuggle him in my beach chair while his mum and dad enjoy some grown-up swim time.

The problem is that these days, Raymond is not interested in being held for very long. Squirming to get down, arching his back, delicate eyebrows meeting in a storm cloud over eyes the color of the sea, his non-verbal communication is usually all about independence and movement.

But not at the beach.

Not when the big, fluffy towel is warm, and Gram’s lap is soft, and the water has been cool, and the breeze is raising goosebumps on his tiny arms and legs. Soon the weight of his head is against my chest and his lavish eyelashes are a dark fringe against round pink cheeks.

Even Raymond will let himself be held sometimes—especially when he needs help to reach the kitty on the back of the couch; or to get a clear view of the sparrow on the bird feeder; or to puzzle over cause and effect with the on-and-off of a light switch.

Raymond’s world is expanding because he submits to the safety and support of being held.

Child of my child, you are blazing a trail for your grandmother, independent cuss who opens Truth and reads Words of Comfort and Promises of Help . . . and then forges ahead alone.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

That’s Isaiah 41:10, and just to make sure that we really hear it, God repeats the high points in verse 13:

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

Someday I plan to read those verses to Raymond; in the meantime, I want to live my way into their truth: I am held. He will help.

I’ve experienced God’s carrying through disaster and hard-scrabble days; through emergency rooms and memorial services; therefore, like Raymond, I know that it is OK to be held—sometimes. The unflattering truth is that, in the day-to-day of my do-list, I want to be “fine” on my own.

Hey, I AM fine, just ask me! I want people to say, “Oh, she’s very pulled together. Just look at her handling life.”

Then, the exquisite words of that Old Testament prophet find their way into my memory, reminding me that, as a child of God, I, too, am held, surrounded by the presence of God. When I forget that “underneath are the everlasting arms,” any risk is just too risky. If it all depends on me, the gravity-defying danger is just too immense.

When I remember that I am held, I find that leaning outside my comfort zone furnishes the occasion for God to demonstrate His firm grip on me.

When God is holding me steady, I can turn my eyes toward the cause and effect of howling injustice and the random tragedies that keen the fallen-ness of this broken world. When it looks to me as if the mountains are being “carried into the midst of the sea,” God doesn’t let go, and in the aftermath, I hear Him whispering, “I’m here. Don’t panic.”

Knowing that I am held by the One Who is also holding the atoms–and the galaxies–in their places, I find grace to recall that it is not my job to formulate a pan-theology or a theory of everything.

Being held–for the ten-month-old spitfire and for his grandmother–is not a position of weakness, but of readiness. It is a support that launches into potential, an enablement for action; an invitation to take risks.

Abigail, King David’s intelligent wife, reminded him that because David was fighting the Lord’s battles, God would wrap up his life and put it with His own treasure (I Samuel 25:29). I have prayed these words for my four boys for over twenty years and now, and as I begin to pray for the next generation, I am thankful that God promises to be more than just a shield. To those who stand with Him against unrighteousness–particularly that which is found in our own hearts–His message is clear:

“Do not fear.
You are wrapped in my love.
You are my treasure, which I know well how to guard.
You are held.”


Image credit: Andreas Cappell