My Father’s Arms

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“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 –

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When the Days are Just Hard

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I’ve approached this past week with a writer’s eyes. “What in the world will I write for Monday?”

And, truth be told, I have felt unworthy to pass on anything.

I’m sick of insights that somehow don’t translate into my living.

This week I longed for a victory so I could pass on some special spiritual secret to you.

Instead, I woke up every day to burdens and labors and jobs I didn’t want and attitudes that gripped me. One morning my world seemed to shift over a nothing–a slight departure from my neatly-pressed plans. It was all I could do to keep sharpness out of my clipped answers to my family. Words clanged in my ears and I could hardly breathe, hardly believe the hateful replies that my off-center mind presented. Things I would never want to say.

And I didn’t. But just my ability to think them startled me. It didn’t help my morning any.

So as I ponder what in all my crazy world could speak to yours, perhaps I’ve found it.

Maybe you really don’t need someone who’s conquered a fear or mastered a subject. You need someone who’s deep in the same life-death battle as you.

Maybe you really have no use for a perfectly cheerful morning person, but instead need to know I’m slogging through attitudes that snag me.

Just like you.

And most of all, maybe you need to know that I don’t have all the answers for you.

I don’t even have all the answers for me.

After a series of days that are spiritually just a bit fuzzy, there are foundations calling me back.

God has given us a Hiding Place to run for refuge. “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2, NKJV).

But I get so busy and so caught up in a self-constructed world that I keep running through the storms instead of running into the shelter He offers.

“You were reaching through the storm
And walking on the water
Even when I could not see
In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me
Not for a moment did You forsake me”

– Meredith Andrews, “Not for a Moment”

What are real, gritty-living ways we can hide in Him? How do we keep living in the storms?

– Join me in digging deeper. I’m currently memorizing the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) with an accountability partner. Please, read. Please, dive in. Listen on CD, online, or on your iPod. Post verse cards on your mirrors and desktops and on sticky notes. And dwell there. Fix your heart on them, like anchors that are sure to hold in those gale-force winds of this next week.

– Sisters, pray for everything. It’s work–but so, so, so much joy. Pray for me to abide. I’ll pray for you. It is life-giving.

– Lay aside the dream worlds. I can tell I’ve stepped out too far into mine when reality makes me blink and I feel disconnected. Make sure that you aren’t spending so much time in alternate realities–even beneficial ones–such as TV, books (any kind), schoolwork, daydreaming, and your own plans that you lose touch with your family and the real living that is happening now. Today is our calling, not tomorrow–not even a dream tomorrow. Be here. Now. Rooted. As Jim Elliott said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Join me in setting aside the music and the screens and the papers to look someone you love in the eye when they speak–is it showing love to keep your gaze rooted on your task and grunt a reply? (Oh, I’m preaching to me too!) Please, join me in a prayer for us to be real.

– Take up the pen and journal and give thanks. Write down 3 gifts that God has given you today. Or 5. Or 50. Thank Him, even when your heart’s not quite in it. Pray for help in the rejoicing. Seek His wonders.

Take a breath.

Say a prayer.

Live real, right here.  Right now.

He will make you stand.

“The only beautiful thing about a Christian is Jesus Christ.”

The Calvary Road, p. 102 –