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Walking anywhere with a young child is always a distraction game, trying to delay the inevitable request for a carry. Little Welford is fond of carries, although he rarely complains when Mummy or Daddy need a rest! I have been on a few walks with him now and I am starting to recognise the signs that a request is imminent. The droopy shoulders, chin hitting chest, walk slowing to a crawl, and then he stops and puts his arms in the air in the universal sign language for ‘CARRY ME!’

This conjures up images of the famous ‘Footprints in the Sand’ poem. Where God scoops down in a time of need to help the needy journeyman. A nice image. But does it really stand up? I mean no doubt God helps us and provides for us, but how often is that done through the medium of literally carrying us through hard times? Rather isn’t it the case that while God is there throughout the difficult patches he let’s us stand on our own two feet and learn as we go?

When a child doesn’t get the carry they require there can be a variety of results – crying, screaming, refusing to move, silently sulking, all in an effort to achieve their goal. I sometimes wonder if this is a tactic we employ with God. Instead of facing our troubles head on confident that God will be with us, we stop and demand a carry. Even the prodigal son picked himself up out of the pig sty.

Luke 15:15-20 ‘So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. ‘When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” So he got up and went to his father.‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him.’