By Rev. Pete Hyde
It was the spring of 1963. He was eight years old. His father, a career Air Force man, had been assigned to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines and had gone ahead of the family to find a place for them to live before they made the trip. The eight-year-old and his mom made the trip from Gulfport, Mississippi to Trenton, New Jersey to spend time with family until everything was in order. They stayed with Aunt Marge and Uncle John who were the closest thing to grandparents he would ever know. It was a trying and unsure time for him. But Uncle John took the small boy under his wing – small being the operative word, for Uncle John was six-foot-four. Over the six week time period before the move took them to the Philippines, Uncle John and the little boy became very close.
A couple of times a week they could be seen taking an evening walk to the corner store at the end of the block. Uncle John’s long arm reached down to hold the hand of his new friend whose arm would be stretched up as far as it could be stretched in order to hold the hand of six-foot-four Uncle John, who had to lean to one side in order to make contact with the little guy. They would each get an ice cream cone and return to the front stoop of Uncle John’s house and eat ice cream together. It probably would have made for a great Norman Rockwell picture. What went on there, however, was deeper than a neat glimpse of Americana. In a trying time in the life of a little boy, the presence, attention and love of big Uncle John brought a sense of security and wellbeing to the eight year old who had found himself in a strange place and circumstance. The big man’s hand always reached down to touch, hold, and offer security, reassurance, love and an occasional ice cream cone.
Another man named Peter followed a man named Jesus who was bigger than life itself. He tagged along with the little band of followers, always opening his mouth and taking action before he thought through what he said. Jesus was walking on the water toward the disciples during a storm on the Sea of Galilee and called Peter to come and walk with him. Peter steps out of the boat into a strange place and circumstance. When he took his eyes off Jesus he sank into the abyss. He called out to Jesus and though we are not told specifically, probably reached his hand up as far as he could reach toward Jesus. In the same way that big Uncle John reached his hand way down to little eight-year-old Peter, God reached his hand all the way down from heaven through His Son Jesus to grab hold of the hand of one needing the saving, securing hand of God’s love and assurance during a time of turmoil. If you find yourself in turmoil today, reach out your hand to God. He will reach down to you, even if he has to bend to one side to do so, take your hand, hold you tight and secure and lead you through the troubled waters of life. In the same way, if you know someone who is sinking in this journey we call life, reach out your hand. You may very well be the hand of God. Uncle John was not God, but he was the hand of God in a little eight-year-old’s life. The hand of God reaches down to take yours. Offer it today. Offer it to God. Then offer it to one another.
Rev. J. Pete Hyde, Senior Pastor
Santa Rosa Beach Community Church