I’ll Take Your Shoulders

I'll Take Your Shoulders

Around Thanksgiving, I signed up to run a race in late January. Since I’ve abandoned the life of a solo runner (see that story here), I invited my friends to join me.  Two of them jumped on board, and we each started preparing ourselves to run the 14 K race route.

A few days before race day, I started to feel sick. But because I’m a bit of a fretter and pre-race anxiety is a thing for me, I just swiped it aside as that. But it didn’t go away. And 24 hours before the starting gun, I found myself in bed wondering what’s the smart thing for me to do come 5 am tomorrow morning. 

It’s an easy answer, right? Skip the race, duh. But there’s this unwritten cultural code I was picking up on. The “inviter” doesn’t bail. The “inviter” stays committed. The “inviter” doesn’t get the pass. One of my friends was actually flying home early from a trip just because I asked him to run this race with me. I was the inviter. I shouldn’t call in sick.

Was I overthinking it? Probably. But I really did spend a good part of 24 hours pre-race wondering what to do. Clearly, no one would want me to put my health in danger, yet, maybe I was going to be fine? 

So I decided to pull out my brave girl and face the race. I’d tell my friends I wasn’t feeling that great and I’d certainly lag in my pace, but I was sure gonna try. 

As is normal for me the night before a race, sleep came fitfully. I was running through all my I-can’t-sleep techniques. One of which is going through the ABCs, saying a name or attribute of God. (You should try this sometime, it’s a beautiful, simple, practice of peace).

God, you are Almighty, you are Benevolent, you are Constant, the rest started to come…

You are my Deliverer, my Everlasting One, my …….

When I reached F, I stopped. All I could think was Father, and somehow in my bed on that night, that word landed somewhere soft and sweet. Somewhere needed. I stopped and leaned into this feeling, this invitation to explore why this word felt so right.

God, can you give me a picture of what it means that you’re my Father?

I send the plea off into the dark room.

And He answers.

I see a dad, and I see a toddler. The sun shining on their wide smiles. They’re outside, walking towards the light. They reach a hill. The toddler tires. Without missing a beat, Dad reaches down and hoists toddler up onto his shoulders. Toddler throws his head back in laughter. Dad runs up the hill, toddler hanging on but clearly having the ride of his life. 

There is so much joy.

There is so much trust.

And the toddler is doing nothing.

Riding on the shoulders of dad. 

His sure steps carrying them both up the hill.

I lay in my bed that night and felt this deep sense of peace. That’s a dad. That’s a father. And God calls Himself that …. To us. 

The next morning, I climbed out of bed at my alarm (unrighteous hour), donned the race shirt, pinned on my bib, tied my shoes, and found my way to the starting line. My friends kindly slowed their pace to match mine. We laughed. We moaned. We posed for the photographers (yup, it’s a thing here). We told stories to distract ourselves. We jumped puddles (yeah, it even rained on us). We had fun.

And then came the final kilometer. And my tank was empty. We turn the corner and I see it – a hill. 

And just then, I remember that picture. That father hoisting his kid up on his shoulders and for the joy set before him running up that hill. I see that the toddler’s feet are nowhere near the ground and that the father’s sure, steady steps are what carry them through.

Ok, God, take this hill. I’m taking your shoulders. 

We made it. The father and I. Up that hill, past those drummers, across the line, to the finish. 

You’ll make it, too. 

Because your feet don’t need to be sure. His are. Your steps don’t need to be perfect. His will undoubtably be. Your stride doesn’t need to carry you through. His will.

He, your surefooted Father, will hoist you onto his strong shoulders.

And with joy, He will carry you.

What name or attribute of God has been giving you confidence lately?

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash


  1. Grace L April 1, 2020

    Hi Maria. I love the imagery here. Thank you for sharing. It is a good picture for all of us to carry around to see ourselves on the Father’s shoulder.

    For me, the attribute of God that has been encouraging me this week is the omniscience of God. He knows everything. He even knew what was needed to fix my computer problem the other night, all the while encouraging me that He knows everything. And I watched in amazement as my computer just moved into a fix-it place and I had my Office 365 software back in good working order. It sure made me smile.

    And than I got thinking about how helpful it is to focus on the omniscience of God during this season where we are all living with so many unknowns. We have to live with these unknowns but it is totally comforting for me to know that God knows everything. Nothing is unknown to Him!

    1. Maria April 2, 2020

      Hi Grace – I really love your thoughts on the omniscience of God. Cool story of a simple way He confirmed that to you with your computer. And so, so true – what would happen to my outlook if I focused on His being all-knowing in the middle of a time when even the greatest experts in our world simply don’t know what to expect? That is a rock, an anchor of truth for us in these floundering days. Hold on to it, sister!!!!

      1. Grace L April 2, 2020

        Hi Maria. Thanks for your encouragement. And even 4 days later I find myself having to remind myself of His omniscience and to remember to keep trusting in Him. It’s an ongoing part of our journey with the Lord to remember His attributes and who He really is. I am not at all worried about myself and my husband here in China, but I am very worried for the rest of the world. I just keep praying that the Lord will bring about His kingdom purposes through the impact of this global pandemic.

  2. Jenny April 1, 2020

    Thank you for this beautiful picture you’ve painted with description. There’s a plaque in my home office here in West Africa that reads, “I will walk by faith when I cannot see. 1 Corinthians 5:7.” I hung that plaque a few months ago having no idea that a short time later, I (like many others in the world right now) would be going through a period where I could not see in a way that I’ve not been able to see before. Oh, to run and walk by faith.

    1. Maria April 2, 2020

      Isn’t it crazy how the good Lord knew that was the exact plaque you needed to hang in your office? He’s carrying us through a time of truly not being able to see. I agree – oh to be able to walk and run with that faith.
      Did you ever hear the Andrew Peterson song called “No More Faith”? In it, he looks forward to a day when we no longer need faith to believe, because our eyes actually see. That day is coming – this is a spiritual muscle we won’t have to exercise forever. Until that day, let’s lean on His strength! Hang in there, sister!

  3. Ashley Felder April 16, 2020

    This image is so powerful. I’m no artist, but I wish I could capture this image somehow. Thanks for sharing!

    And I have to know—did you collapse when you got home?! Get sicker?!

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