Hand Over Hand

I can’t do this, Mom. It feels weird. It’s too hard.

I’ll help you, Son. I’ll hold your hand until you get the feel of it. Cursive is hard.

HoH It: If it’s good and new, and really hard to do.

It’s the most basic, for the most needy. It’s the highest degree of help and the least amount of independence. It’s what therapists and teachers do when there is no other way to progress.

My day job proves it. When success eludes a student tracing a shape or cutting a line, we guide that hand. We go Hand over Hand, or HoH for short.

My mom job confirms it. The way to get squashy spoons held by chubby hands into target mouths and little-boy hands connecting those tricky cursive loops is to hold those hands in ours.

A funny thing about cursive: you need to know cursive to write cursive. You can’t be linking and looping and curving one letter smooth into the next without unless you already know how form each letter and connect one to the next. Cursive is a catch-22.

Which explains why Gabe’s first couple cursive “can’s” looked more like “rln’s” than anything. And why “and” looked a whole lot like “onol” and he wanted to quit two minutes in.

And why he needed help.

A Way Through Our Catch-22


Someone said, “Repenting is siding with God against yourself.” That’s hard. About the hardest thing we’ll ever do, since when we first believed and a thousand times hence.

Repentance means dying to self. And dying, even little deaths, is no fun at all. It’s admitting specific wrongs-like gossiping, breaking my word, being harsh with the boys. And who likes to admit he was wrong?

In a chapter of Mere Christianity called “The Perfect Penitent,” C.S. Lewis our dilemma-why we so desperately need God’s hand guiding ours to turn it right and repent.

It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it… 

It cannot happen. Very well, then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it makes us unable to do it.  

Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of his reasoning powers and that’s how we think; He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another.  

When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters; that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do.  

Repentance is a gift of God. But it’s also killing part of yourself. Thomas Brooks wrote, vividly, “Repentance is the vomit of the soul.” 
It’s doesn’t feel good. It feels weird. We need God’s hand over ours to do it. 

God Grants Repentance, He Provides This Lamb

When Peter told the Jerusalem church how God’s great grace reached even to the Gentiles, Dr. Luke recorded this reaction: They glorified God saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:28). 
Matthew Henry wrote, “It’s not only his grace that accepts [our repentance], but his mighty grace that works it in us, that takes a way the heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; it is He that provides himself this lamb.”
It’s how I forgive and give up the last word, how I refrain from anger and the only possible way I can kill selfish me and repent. God helps me. I want to, but it’s too hard, I pray. 
And He puts a little of His reason and love in me and away we go. I admit the wrong, see how I offended God, change course, and turn to Christ. 
But it takes a good person to repent. And I’m not good. But in grace, He made a way through. Your right hand supported me, David said, and your gentleness made me great (Psalm 18:35b).

When Dependence Is A Good Thing

I don’t want to push the analogy too far. The boys don’t need me to feed them anymore. And with a little more practice, Gabe will master those looping letters. In this life on earth, growing up means less dependence on mom and dad. Independence is good. It’s maturity. 
But in the spiritual realm, it’s the opposite. We’ll never get so mature that we need God less. Instead, as we grow in faith, we become more and more dependent on our Heavenly Father. God designed it that way: He wants us to rely on Him.
Because feeling strong and independent, writes Jason Meyers leads to a cesspool of self-sufficiency and independence that leads us away from God. Feeling weak is the best garden for the flowering of dependence upon God’s sufficient grace. 
Spiritually, dependence is good. 
Since the hand that created the world (Acts 7:50) and feeds it good things (Psalm 104:28), that both saves the righteous (Psalm 138:7) and avenges the wicked (Deuteronomy 32:41) is the very same hand that holds all our times (Psalm 31:15) and even our breath (Daniel 5:23), we’d best have that hand guide ours. 
Then I put a loving-mom hand on Gabe’s little-man hand.
And hand over hand, away we wrote. 

I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; 
You hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, 
And afterward you will receive me to glory.
Psalm 73:22-24


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