Country music has a way of telling stories that speak to me. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Western Montana near the dirt. Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for simple, relatable sentiments. I don’t know what it is, and I guess it doesn’t really matter. Some songs touch me deeply.
One of those songs is The Walk by Sawyer Brown.
It describes a long dusty driveway, the kind I have been on many times. Maybe not a driveway, but on a dirt road. On this driveway, a boy holds his dad's hand in fear as he goes to school for the first time. The song says “But I set out with tears in my eyes and wonderin'."
It speaks to courage in the face of fear, faith in the face of change and trust in a lack of control.
The song covers three different chapters of a man’s life, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
The eighteen-year-old boy has his mind set to go “Cause I was eighteen and wild and free and wonderin,'” the inevitable result of so many walks.
Finally, the walk is as an adult, but this time it is made with an aging father who “had grown old and gray and his mind was wandering.” In the song, the father knows where the son is taking him. “I know where we are going and I understand.” This part of the walk is toward a place where the dad can be cared for. It’s a difficult thing to hear because, throughout the song, the father has been a comfort to the boy through his presence and his understanding. The chorus repeats, “Daddy took me by the hand…Don't worry boy it will be all right. 'Cause I took this walk your walking now boy, I've been in your shoes. You can't hold back the hands of time. It's just something you've got to do. So dry eyes I understand just what you're goin` through. 'Cause I took this same walk with my old man, boy, I've been in your shoes.”
The father’s presence has made all the difference in the boy’s life, and I can say, he has made all the difference in my life as well. To be sure, my dad has been an essential presence, offering encouragement and support in his own dusty driveway way. But, I have another Father who beckons me down a road that is scary and uncertain. He has been down the road he calls me to follow. He has faced fear and uncertainty. He holds my hand and gently calls me forward. “Don’t worry Bob. It will be alright.” But I can’t help but wonder, “Will it?”
Going down the dusty road is costly. It requires much of me. It requires courage that I have to admit, I lack. It requires a faith that I can’t muster and a trust that I fail to remember with each new rock in my shoe or brown colored mud puddle.
This week a walk is happening that I have known was coming, but it has still arrived somewhat unexpectedly. It looks a bit like the eighteen-year-old walk in the song. My daughter, Hannah, will be walking across a stage to receive her high school diploma. While graduating isn’t a Nobel Peace prize winning accomplishment, it does provide a place to reflect. A spot on the road to stop and enjoy the view.
One of my fondest memories is of my wife and our daughter, Hannah. We were in the basement of our first home, new to fulltime ministry and new to parenthood. Amy and I sat across from one another with our legs spread and our feet touching. Between us, our daughter learned to walk. It wasn’t a dusty road, but a shag carpet. It was beautiful, innocent and precious. She squealed with delight as her feet tried to stay under the weight of her head. Those first teetering steps were celebrated with cheers and tears as we watched her take new developmental steps. We have revisited that memory many times in the past eighteen years. As we reflect on it now, it is both happy and sad. The happiness is because she was learning, but it is tinged with sadness because Hannah has grown. “You can’t hold back the hands of time. It’s just something you got to do.” Hannah has been walking for many years now, and in a matter of days, she will take a walk across a stage to receive a diploma. In and of itself, those few steps aren’t all that much, but it is what that represents that matters.
She is becoming independent. She is moving past what we have known into a future that she and Christ will cultivate. He has been with her the whole time, but this is a seminal marker on that dirt road. It represents a change in how she will walk and where she will walk.
For me, I guess it represents learning to trust Jesus with my daughter. I can feel Him taking my hand, letting me know that it will be alright. He’s been down this road and walked with many fathers in the past. I know I won’t be the last. And I can trust Him, even if I don’t know what the future holds. I can have faith, knowing He is holding her had with me, even if now, my grip is loosened. I can have courage, because of who He is and how He will walk with her, knowing His love for her is so much greater than my own.
I will always be your dad. You can always reach for my hand. I will still hold you steady when you need to tie your shoes or adjust your sock. But it is for you to walk now Hannah. It is your road. If you want to run, go ahead, He will run with you; further up and further in. If you need to stroll, He will never leave your side, even if you venture off the road. To the many days and steps ahead of you know that I will hold Christ’s hand and He will hold mine. You can trust Him the way I am learning to trust Him walking down this long dusty road.
From Celtic Daily Prayer
Christ, as a light illumine and guide you. Christ, as a shield overshadow you. Christ under you; Christ over you; Christ beside you on your left and your right. This day Christ be within and without you, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. May He be in the heart of each to whom you speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto you. This day Christ be within and without you, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside you, on your left and your right.
Blessing May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.