The Outstretched Hand

“Stand up, Teacher. Don’t be afraid. You can hold my hand.” But I couldn’t stand. Fear of my feet slipping kept me firmly seated. I watched in amazement as my students walked confidently up and down the steep face of the granite-topped mountain. Climbing the mountain earlier that afternoon had been a challenge well rewarded by breathtaking views from the top and the camaraderie of my English students. How my daughters and I loved these outings in nature! 

As the sun dropped toward the horizon, it was time to retrace our steps down the mountain. I was dismayed to find that the familiar steel cables, present on other Korean mountains, were missing. My students assured me it was because this mountain didn’t need them. Unconvinced, I inched my way down the long, steep granite descent in a sitting position. The sun slipped lower in the sky. Still, fear paralyzed me. Seeing the outstretched hand, I slowly peeled my gaze from the rocks far below and looked into the smiling face of my student, Jamey. He stood patiently beside me, relaxed and confident. “Stand up, Teacher. Stand up and walk. Don’t be afraid. You can hold my hand.”

Many years have passed since I took my student’s hand and walked down that mountain. The summer missionary training for 2018 is nearly complete. Like climbing a steep mountain, the challenges of learning so much so fast have been well rewarded with wonderful discoveries and the warm camaraderie of fellow missionaries preparing to serve. The exhilaration of the mountaintop has been real. Earlier this week, I learned that my funding goals are nearly met. Amazement and gratitude were quickly followed by apprehension tinged with fear. Am I ready? Can I do this? I open my Bible and read, “If I say, ‘My foot slips,’ Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.” Accepting His outstretched hand, I stand up and walk forward with confidence.

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