I took the familiar hand in mine, looking down each aisle as we walked along the back of the store. When I glanced up to see a stranger’s face where my mother’s should have been, realized that not-my-mother’s-face meant not-my-mother’s-hand, the panic sufficed to etch one of very few vivid memories into my toddler mind. I have seen it happen several times since: tiny tots oblivious to harm transfixed on floor- to knee-level lures briefly following freedom before clasping a hand previously unheld, their faces soon melting into terrified masks. It’s funny, if you’re any age but 3 and if true mom reappears shortly—as mine did that day some 54 years ago.

Knowing what lurks in the wilderness, David says: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you… when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night… My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

We have known the one true God. He has (per Isaiah) strengthened, helped, and upheld us with his righteous right hand. But as Israel was, we are easily drawn away by eye-level lures or lurks. Ready to return, we seek refuge in simulacra—in what was for Israel sometimes temple, sacrifice, land, or law; for us, service, song, pose, or practice. Bliss endures until anomaly demands God and we realize we’re holding the wrong hand.

This week may we say with David: “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.’” And may our faith reveal that the hand we hold and the face above are his.