I am Mother. And I am Risk Assessment Officer.
As mum to an adventurous toddler and his equally daring baby sister, I have discovered a habit that I’ve yet to decide whether is newly acquired or some kind of primal maternal behavior.
Perhaps it’s just plain evidence of madness.
In every context where my children are present (or will be), my mind darts ahead, scanning for hazards. You may as well just hand me one of those risk assessment forms – although I feel certain my process would be more thorough.
Hubby and I were going to bed – clearing the benches and switching lights off – when I noticed a packet of lollies on the table. I picked it up and stashed it in a cupboard up high so the first thing consumed the next morning wouldn’t be the equivalent of 48 teaspoons of sugar.
Then the RAO in me took over.
What if our capable toddler pulls a stool over to the cupboard?
What if he stands on that stool, and falls?
What if, as he’s falling, his head clips the edge of the bench nearby?
Could be fatal.
Will anyone else own up to having the brain of an OH&S officer on steroids?
It’s like an evil voice has weaseled his way into my subconscious, positing all the inglorious ways a child can die or harm themselves – staircases, car accidents and knives are a specialty.
When I think of any kind of injury befalling my precious children, I can’t breathe for a moment. My stomach churns. I blanche.
I know that some of you are reading this and nodding your heads. You know the deeply protective feeling we have for our children or vulnerable people entrusted to our care.
Which means you also know how God feels. Well, a splinter of his immense love for us.
Check out this passage in Isaiah 49, verses 15-16:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
Aw. What lovely words. What’s this, you want proof?
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
This image of God inscribing his palms with the names of his children harks back to a tradition amongst the Jewish people of the time. It was customary for them to literally tattoo images of Jerusalem on their palms to keep the vision always before them, never far from their thoughts.
In the same way, God never forgets us – nor our “walls” or difficulties. When we make that decision to follow him, to believe, he becomes our dad, our protector. And just as our DNA cannot suddenly deny parenthood to our own children, God cannot, will not, remove us from his care.
As Jesus said in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
When I think of God’s hands, another image comes to mind, one that is especially pertinent at Easter. It’s a picture of Jesus’ hands scarred from the rough nails rammed through to hold him aloft on that crude cross.
When he went to his friends on Easter Monday more than 2000 years ago, he held up his hands as proof of his resurrection.
Jesus has suffered for us so that we will be reunited in eternity. It’s a pretty small ask that we simply believe in return.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday April 6, 2005.