Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Always Protected


He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

 Growing up I was a very timid child. For reasons that aren’t worth discussing I was quite fearful and had no real comfort zone. Still I felt worse when I was away from home. My mother was a big woman, prone to wearing dresses and skirts, most of which were bell shaped or flowy. I loved those skirts! They were my haven. Whenever I was totally intimidated, read that as most of the time, I would stand as close to my mother as possible and pull the material of her skirt in front of me.
This morning while praying, I was blessed with the image of God’s giant hand holding the enemy back, off, away from me. As I prayed in thanksgiving I said. “I love it behind the shelter of your huge hand.” That reminded me of the skirts.

Note it was not my mother’s presence that gave me comfort. She was not a comforting person, because, God bless her, she was not a comfortable person. If I lacked a comfort zone and I did, I’m fairly sure it was an inherited lack. So it was not the fact of her person that gave me a bit of relief but the ability to literally hide behind her clothing.
In contrast, the mere knowledge that my Gram was in any room gave me a sense of safety that I cannot describe. In Gram’s case it absolutely was her person, her being that made uncomfortable situations bearable, good situations better and gave joy to my life.

While I didn’t see it until recently both of those women were God’s gift and blessing to me. While it has always been easy to freely and openly love and be grateful for Gram, for years I have chosen to be grateful for and to my mother for the fact that she gave me life and I’ve pretty much left it there. In recent years I’ve begun to see her differently and to see that God used her brokenness to make me who I am.

Today I have the illustration of the skirt to give me a worldly experience that helps me understand a spiritual concept. We are protected every minute of our lives by a force we cannot see. The psalmist uses a lot of bird analogies, wings, nests, etc. I like my skirt analogy. In the same way that I became semi-invisible and therefore unnoticed behind my mother’s skirt, I become fully protected behind my Father’s hand. I see him holding that hand up toward the enemy in a gesture of “turn around you aren’t getting any closer.” There is such comfort, love and grace in that image. It makes me want to stay there at the exact same time it encourages me to be the hand or the skirt for someone else.

Once more I can see the truth of Romans 8:28. God truly does work things for our good, even things we saw as, or believed to be, difficult or miserable. Stand behind your Father. He will always protect you.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Not So Hidden Treasure


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. James 1:17

Earlier today I read a message about how God goes before us in life, planting little bits of joy, little treasures for us to find. That reminded me of my husband and my grandchildren, not for the obvious reason.

My husband makes jewelry, beautiful jewelry created with precious and semi-precious gemstones. The stones he uses aren’t purchased. They are found. What he does purchase is dirt, dirt that he then sifts through to find the gems.
The first time he did it at home our grandson Joey helped him. Joey was about four at that the time and would often miss something that was actually valuable. Pop-Pop patiently showed Joey how to slow down and consider each rock. Soon Joey was finding all kinds of things.

Last night our grandson Samuel was showing me all the wonderful riches he’d found while going through a bucket of dirt with his grandfather. He was thrilled. What at first appeared to be a bucket of sand quickly turned into a little boy’s dream of buried treasure.
My husband didn’t plant the gems in the bucket, as God plants blessing for us but the analogy is still pretty sound. The gems are buried in literal dirt and when someone takes the time to unearth them the result is a feeling of delight.

Today, any day, may feel like a bucket of dirt. It may seem dreary, ugly, cold or difficult but our Father promises us that every day, even the very worst of days holds some gift, some treasure, some precious example of his love for us. All we have to do is pay attention and look for it. The best part is that most days hold many little bits of joy, many treasures, subtly but lovingly placed in our lives by the hand of the One who loves us beyond understanding.
It may be a cliché to stop and smell the roses but do it anyway, slow down, look around. God’s hand is in each of our lives. He rains blessings on us day after day after day. I hate to think how many I’ve missed because my focus was in the wrong place. Still I am so grateful that even when I miss or ignore his gifts, our loving Father just keeps giving.