Resting in the Everlasting Arms

 Everlasting Arms

Deuteronomy 32:27: Our eternal refuge with Our Creator eternal, and God’s almighty arms underneath are everlasting.

I am almost three weeks into my radiation treatments for prostate cancer (my prognosis is positive and the treatments are quick and painless, and I am thankful that so far I have had no adverse effects), and share a ride with a woman whom I’ll call Sharon from our church. It’s nice to have company on the 32-mile round trip drive, and I’ve gotten to know Sharon better over the past couple of weeks.

The past couple of weeks, Sharon has shared a number of stories from her past with me. She grew up in Derry, a small town in New Hampshire and went to the local high school, where Robert Frost taught for a while. (She told me she did not have him as a teacher.) The population was so small that one school bus covered the entire attendance area. And I thought I had a long bus ride in high school! Sharon went on to say that buses were only for students through grade eight. After that, they were on their own. Her father went to work at 6:30 AM and dropped her at a traffic circle about a half mile from school. The janitor lived at the school so he had the building open and stoves going when she arrived. I imagine it was a glimpse of Paradise to come in to a warm building from the New Hampshire winter.

Sharon’s older brother was born in 1930. While he was still an infant, his mother stood holding him in their living room while an electrical storm raged about them. Lightning struck the house, traveled into the room and hit the baby, not harming the mother at all. Of course the infant suffered neurological damage and had seizures and other medical problems the rest of his short life. He passed away at age seven when Marge was four, and she spoke with great tenderness of taking care of this unfortunate child.

I had never heard of a babe in arms being struck by lightning, much less while being held in loving arms. It seems to me a parallel to how God treats each of us as God’s eternal children. We are babes in this world, and as the storms of life rage about us, sometimes we are struck by any number of destructive forces. But no matter how we are harmed or the extent of our injuries and diseases, the arms that hold us are everlasting. Let us praise God for God’s goodness, care, compassion and eternal vigilance over us, who are to the Creator as babies to their mothers.

 

 

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Brown Thumbs and New Hope

Day Lilies (Not Mine)

Day Lilies (Not Mine)

Devotional #642

Matthew 6: 25-27: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

I don’t know if you recall my mentioning in earlier devotionals that I have a brown thumb. In case you don’t remember this, I do. And I know it, and admit it. So when I got some day lilies last summer to go around the mail box, I wasn’t surprised when the leaves turned yellow and died. Maybe I watered them too little; maybe I watered them too much; maybe I planted them too deeply; maybe I didn’t plant them deep enough. I don’t know. I’ve killed plants off so frequently I just shrugged at this latest example of floracide and went on. The poor plants endured as some dry brown husks.

Then, this spring, I noticed that they were coming back! They had greened up, and one of the two plants started growing. Now it has nice yellow flowers. The other is still stunted but still, it’s green!

I reported my experience to one of our gardeners extraordinaires at church, who also happens to be in the choir, Mary Alice Corder. She knows a whale of a lot about plants and flowers, and I figured she would be impressed with my success at bringing back the flowers. But she said, “Well, you can’t kill day lilies. They’ll live in a ditch by the side of the road and they don’t care if it’s too wet or too dry.” I was glad to hear they were hard to kill, but then was not as impressed with my success in bringing them back. I really didn’t do anything, after all. Apparently, if I want real success with day lilies, what I need to do is dig a ditch by the side of the road, put them there, and ignore them. This would work well for me.

I think my experience with these poor plants has a spiritual dimension. Sometimes we try to get something going, something worthwhile and important. We do our best to try to grow something, somehow, and our efforts come to nothing or just flat out fail. We become discouraged and give up on whatever it was that we wanted to succeed so badly.

But, like my flowers, there is a power at work far greater than our poor pitiful efforts. We now that we plant the seeds or the flowers but it is God who makes them grow. We have to do our part, for sure, but by and large, we do not do the real work. The real work of God’s Kingdom is ongoing, and we have a part in it, but we do not need to concert ourselves with the success or failure of each little project or each little part of the grand design. That has been taken care of by the Master Designer, in whose care we all live and grow. Praise God for God’s providence and mighty power bestowed on his children!