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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High and Lifted Up

Road Leading to High Mountains

Isaiah 6:1: In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

I don’t know that many of us think about escalators and elevators. They’re there and we use them, and a few people aside who have claustrophobia or a fear of falling, most of us think they’re convenient. Evensong Bells thinks an elevator in this building would be a gift from God, and while God’s time is best, my hope as someone who plays bells and, as part of the job, schleps cases around when we play in the front of the sanctuary or take our bell songs on the road. It takes either two bell players to carry one of the two largest cases, but Jim Harris can carry both at once. He is one strong man. And here ends the commercial from Evensong.

I’ve always been fond of any device that can transport me to a higher level be it airplane, funicular, ski lift, rescue basket, and of course escalator and elevator. (I’m talking physically being lifted up here–hold on for the spiritual transport. You’re on your own for the emotional version.

Now, if you’re claustrophobia and must avoid elevators, I can’t help you much. But I can do something about fear of an elevator cable snapping as it seems to in the movies and a car packed with people falling to their horrible demise. In our local writing group, Write by the Rails we had a visitor one evening who was an elevator inspector. Normally we go around at the end of the meeting and talk for a few minutes about what we’re doing and what help we may need, if any. When our guest’s turn came up, someone asked about falling elevators such as those we see in disaster movies. His answer was that it’s physically impossible for an elevator in good repair to fall because of the way they’re designed. Think about—how many times is there a story about an elevator falling with multiple fatalities on the news? I can’t ever remember seeing one. Not that that proves anything, but if you find out about such an accident, please let me know.

Escalators fascinated me from an early age. If I had to choose between them and elevators, I would choose the moving steps. The engineering is fantastic, and while you’re more likely to be injured on an escalator, if you tie your shoes, watch where you’re putting your feet and hold on to the handrail, you’ll be fine. (The preceding announcement was brought to you by your mom, who also wants to remind you to wear a raincoat, eat healthy food and not talk to strangers.)

On teacher workdays in elementary and intermediate school, our mom would take my brother Ron and me to what was then called Parkington and now Virginia Square. Parkington was so called because of the large multi-story parking garage behind the multi-story Hecht Company building, whose façade was made up of large glass windows. It was an imposing sight and sported escalators which, while new and made of steel, lacked the soul of the ones in a store at our next stop, McCrory’s in Clarendon. For most of my pre-high school career, they had wooden escalators. I wish I could tell you what kind of wood they used, but I didn’t develop an appreciation for different kinds of wood until high school. The escalators at McCrory’s were old and funky, and our mom would leave us to ride the escalators up and down while we shopped. We would have ridden all day had she not threatened to leave us and see how much we would enjoy walking the thirteen miles to our house in Fairfax. Somehow, we managed to never make that walk, which would have spoiled a nice day of riding elevators.

Now, it seems to me that sometimes God lets us carry the heaviest hand bell cases over all kinds of terrain, including high mountains. At other times, he provides a nice wooden escalator to take us to new heights. And at other times, we have those rapid breathtaking ascents as we do in one of those glass elevators that pop out from the building and we feel there’s nothing holding us up but the floor. All these experiences are part of the journey we’re on, and whether we’re toiling up the mountain on foot or riding in style to the top the God who created us and loves us so much is there with us and ahead of us. Thanks be to God for God’s eternal presence and care!

Guest Post by Maria Yeager

Homeless Woman

I’m pleased to introduce Maria Yeager to all you Biscuit readers out there. Maria came to one of our Writers Cafe meetings about a week ago and want to start maintaining a blog. Here’s an entry from her blog, Inspiring through Experience, “Angels Among the Homeless.” I think you’ll be as moved and impressed as I was.

About 8 years ago, I was blessed to be part of a group in Texas who went out and fed the homeless.  Over the months that I was involved with this church group, we helped many people who were on the streets – alcoholics, drug addicts, those with mental disorders, and those who were just plain down on their luck.  Although we were sad about their living conditions, it was such a rewarding experience to know that we helped these people in our own small way.  I remember looking at them and wondering what horrible thing happened in their life that put them in such a terrible position.  I usually prayed for them on the way back to the church.

One day as we were handing out food, an older man came up to us carrying a bunch of palm branches.  We asked him what he needed, and he said “Nothing.  I just wanted to share something with you.”  His tattered clothing and unshaven face made it clear that he was indeed homeless.  He went on to say that he felt God had called him to take palm branches and twist them into crosses to give to others as a sign of hope.  He then took his branches and twisted them into the shape of a cross – a beautiful one at that.  He made a cross for each of us, and we thanked him for such a wonderful gift. He was a very sweet man, very quiet and polite.  After he was done, he made sure to thank us for coming down and helping the homeless.  He then turned and walked away without taking and food or drink from our truck.  I kept that cross for several months until it dried out and started to crumble.  I didn’t want to let it go because the whole experience had such a major impact on me.

About 3 years ago, my ex-husband and I went out to eat at a steakhouse in Washington, D.C.  As we walked down the street in the city, a homeless man suddenly approached us and told us we looked like newlyweds.  We thanked him and told him we had been married 20 years.  He smiled and said “Well, you look like newlyweds.  You are definitely meant for each other.”  Again, this homeless man did not ask for a thing from us.  We thanked him and continued on our way.  Little did I know that would be the last meal that I would enjoy with my ex-husband.  About a week later, I found out that he had been having an affair.

So, was that homeless man in Texas, who didn’t ask for any help from us, really an angel among us who was thanking us for helping out those who are less fortunate?  Did he give us those crosses as a way to show us that God sees our good works?  What about the man in Washington?  Was that an angel who was trying to send a message to my ex-husband? Was this a divine way to let him know that what he was doing was wrong?  I believe both of these were in fact angels among the homeless.  I believe that things like this happen all the time, but we are too busy to notice.  A lesson that I have learned from these two experiences are that we should never, ever judge others.  We never know who and where we will experience divine intervention.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you.”  Luke 6:37

“The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  John 4:9-10