Speaking of Life 3011 | Loving Us Without Walking Away
This is one of my favorite pictures. It hangs in my office and I see it every day. My son Gatlin was playing college football, and this is a post-game scene.
Gatlin played the position of linebacker and his primary role was to shut down the opponent’s ability to run the ball in the middle of the field. That afternoon the game wasn’t shaping up like we were hoping for. In particular, the other teams running backs were coming through the middle and breaking off long runs. It was as if the other team was reading our playbook. The bad news is that all afternoon they exploited the part of the field Gatlin was defending and our team suffered a decisive loss.
In this moment captured by the picture, my wife Susan walked alongside my boy in silence. She held that moment for him, saying nothing, just loving him without walking away. The picture reminds me of a passage in Isaiah.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 (ESV)
Perhaps the reason for this verse’s popularity is the weariness we can all identify with. Weariness of lost games and lost relationships, weariness of our own failures and the failures of those we love—fatigue in a fallen world.
That’s why this picture means so much to me. It’s my son having that existential experience of failure and his mother reaching out to stand up with dignity and grace beside him.
The Williams boys have their share of trophies and ribbons and championship rings—we did all that. But this picture is my favorite.
This is the tangible, never-ending love of God we meet in our weariness. Of Jesus—God with us—who not only experienced death but all the frustrations and the “nothing-to-say” disappointments of life as well.
Jesus never sinned, but he knew what it was like to have things go wrong. He had to learn to be a carpenter by way of hammered thumbs and uneven tables. Do we think of him that way? Do we think of him walking off the proverbial field with Mary by his side simply staying close?
He walks beside us. He suffers with us. He gives power to the faint and reminds us that love, joy, and grace—not defeat—will have the final word.
I am Greg Williams, Speaking of Life and reminding you that you never walk alone.