(Image from the Dakota’s Area UM Foundation – Facebook post)
“How often I have wanted to gather you like a hen gathers its chicks under her wings” (Jesus – Luke 13:34b).
The above words of Jesus seem to speak for a God that offers to support, protect, and embrace us. Jesus, continues with the words, “But you didn’t want that.” There are so many reasons we try to go it alone. We could make a mighty long list. However, we can also make a list of the times God reminds us we are not alone.
“The Lord will guide you always” (Isaiah 58:11).
“The Lord is my light and salvation…the Lord is my fortress” (Psalm 27:1).
“The Lord is my shepherd…The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures;
leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-2)
“Do not be afraid, I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10)
The Bible is filled with reminders that God is always ready to embrace us–restoring our souls even in the worst of times. The Bible doesn’t say life will be problem-free. Far from it. However, a sense of God’s embrace in the midst of trials can go a long way toward protecting our souls from hate, cynicism, hopelessness and despair. Honestly, as a grandpa, I find a mini high-five or a pint-sized hug from my granddaughter has a similar restorative power for the soul.
Let God embrace you in your time of need. A great way of doing this is to read a single-line promise like those above while imagining Jesus beside you, his hand resting on your shoulder. Maybe you’ll glimpse the nail-marks of his previous life. Remember, God carried him through and will carry you through.
Remember, also, you may find yourself sitting with another who needs a reminder God is near. It is OK to ask, “would you like a hug?” It is also OK for someone to say, “no” to a hug. It is OK to ask someone if you can keep them in your prayers. It is OK for someone to say, “no” to that as well. Still, God’s embrace may be felt by another without our hug, or our prayers. Sometimes just our quiet, caring presence for a fleeting moment is enough.
May you feel God’s protection today. May God give you the grace to be a reminder of God’s protection for another when the time is right.
Blessings, Pastor Roger