Hanging by a Thread

I saw them just in time. On a recent bike ride with my little boys, we turned onto a paved trail covered by big, beautiful shade trees.

As we entered nature’s wonderland, something floating caught my eye. In front of us tiny, bright green inch worms dangled from the trees, each by a single silken thread.

I abruptly stopped my four-year-old, fairly certain he hit one with his bike helmet before breaking. I tried to hide my panic as we quickly turned around to find another route.

As someone who is mildly (okay, very) afraid of creepy crawlies, I can’t seem to get the scene out of my head. Not just because of my near encounter with hanging worms. But also because these tiny creatures were literally hanging by a single translucent thread that extended 20-30 feet down from the treetops.  

It reminded me of how we feel so often — like we too are hanging by a thread. When a major life change takes place, when a medical emergency interrupts life as we know it, when loss leaves us wondering how to go on, we feel like we’re dangling in midair. All that is familiar, safe, and steady has been abrupted taken. And the feelings of free-falling creep in.

Just a few days after our fascinating worm experience, I read Deuteronomy 33. Moses reminds the Israelites of all God has done for them and all he has promised to do. Moses then calls the people to courageously conquer their enemies as God instructed.

Moses says, “The everlasting God is a refuge, and underneath you are his eternal arms” (verse 27a). No doubt it was dauting to be told to destroy enemies who were bigger, stronger, and more sophisticated. The people of Israel had lived as nomads for 40 years. They had very little experience in warfare. They had rudimentary equipment and no firm battle plan.

But God told them to go, and he would fight their battles. In fact he would be their refuge — their safe place, their hideout, their strong tower when the fighting felt like too much. And on the days when they felt their feet slipping, or their faith faltering, they could still be confidence because they were cradled in his arms.

No matter how big, hard, or devastating our situation may seem, we are not hanging by a thread. Life will no doubt leave us feeling that way. We will question why God has brought us to uncertain places. We will wonder why he has allowed such pain. We will ask if he sees or cares on the days when we feel like those tiny inch worms dangling in the wind.

But then there are his everlasting arms — big, strong, immovable. They’re right underneath us, keeping us from breaking apart, making a mistake, or simply giving up.

Today you are held by everlasting arms. The one foretold throughout the Old Testament came and extended his arms on a cruel cross for us. And when all seemed lost, shattered, and ruined, Sunday morning dawned.

The one crucified is now risen, and today he still works on our behalf. He is guiding, protecting, and orchestrating all the bad and hard things for good in mysterious ways we simply cannot see right now.

If you feel like you’re hanging by a thread today, take a breath. Whatever challenges you face will not send you plummeting to the ground. They will not end your story. They will not break your hope.

Underneath you are eternal arms. And they can keep you today and forever.

Amanda DeWitt is a freelance writer, coach's wife, and mom. She completed her bachelor’s at Dallas Baptist University and holds a M.A. in media and communication from Dallas Theological Seminary. When she's not typing away at her computer, she's chasing her two little boys or watching her husband coach high school football.

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