My Father’s Arms

baby-and-dad-sleeping

“Father! — to God himself we cannot give a holier name.”

~William Wordsworth~

Waiting in the local Walmart parking lot, I felt the wind swaying our 2-ton vehicle. It whistled around the building corners and practically blew shoppers in and out of the automatic doors.

I watched a couple get out of the car, the man pulling his coat tight around his chest. When I looked closely, I saw he carried something in his arms, wrapped beneath his coat.

A child.

A tiny pink-socked foot stuck out beneath the coat. The couple fought the wind as they approached the store’s entrance. I was entranced by the baby hidden away from sight.

I smiled to myself. In an instant, that father painted a picture of God for me. Baring himself to the elements without a concern, putting his head down into the wind without hesitation, shouldering through the storm without blinking–but his baby girl was safe and warm against his chest. He might be blasted by the wind, but not his girl. She was protected in his arms.

“I have found a place where I can hide. It’s safe inside Your arms of love. Like a child who’s held throughout a storm, You keep me warm in Your arms of love.”

 – Grant, Smith, and Chapman, “Arms of Love” –

Thinking recently about God’s powerful kindness, I wrote, “You carry the cosmos like a lamb between Your shoulders.”

I face storms. We all do. In many ways, we face the wind and waves and must stand up to them in courage. We seem them crashing down over our heads and wonder if there is a place of shelter from the wind after all.

In the middle of our questions and in the midst of our fears, how refreshing it is to remember the Father, to whom we are “worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).

Chris Tomlin’s new song “Good, Good Father” has run through my head so often lately. The concept of God’s fatherhood expressed in this song has become a frequent meditation. “He’s a good, good Father,” I find myself saying to others.

Isn’t He, though? Life is hard, certainly. The path is rocky and the wind rips with cold ferocity.

But He is there, too. He is with us, carrying us in His power, bearing us in His arms, wrapping His coat of love around us to shelter us from the storm.

Life isn’t perfect.

But still, He’s a good, good Father. And He is making all things new.

“In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

 – Luke 10:21-22, ESV –

Stormy Mornings

waves-ocean

Smooth-sailing life doesn’t drift me closer to God, not usually.

It’s those thunderstorms that crackle uncertainty into my plans that set me to clinging.

I once wrote in my journal that it isn’t the dark and stormy nights that bother me so much. That dusk is natural—expected rhythm.

It’s the mornings that dawn dark and stormy that rattle me so badly.

It’s those Galilee storms that swell out of serenity and suddenly flood me.

God sometimes parts my perspective’s thick curtain and allows me to see that another is hurting.

Sometimes another’s vulnerability startles me and I wonder how I can stand when my foundation seems to shift like angry surf. How can I speak when my words have such power of life and death?

In the waves, I can only stand when I see the Master walking beside me, firm though the waters rush about Him.

I can only stand when I believe in His power to hold me up.

While reading through Hosea with my family, a few verses caught my heart:

“I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms;

But they did not know that I healed them.

I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love,

And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.

I stooped and fed them.”

 – Hosea 11: 3-4, NKJV –

In this sea-gusting life, my Father holds my hands and teaches me to walk in the storm. “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms…”

Even when the day breaks cloudy and thunder complains, yet He draws me with his gentle cords, with His bands of love.

Even when this earth-yoke presses heavy, He is the One who takes the yoke from my neck—and replaces it with one both easy and light.

When my heart is sore and soul-hungry from fighting the current’s deadly pull, He stoops down and holds out His hand, like He did on Galilee to a fisherman floundering in unbelief.

Lyrics of the song “Who Am I” by the group Casting Crowns remind me:

“Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin would look on me with love and watch me rise again? Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea would call out through the rain and calm the storm in me? Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.”

The wind still whips in my face, but now it feels almost invigorating. The waves foam, cresting and eddying around my feet.

And yet I stand, because of who You are.

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

– Psalm 107:23-31, NKJV –