“…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Mt 23:37
The world was too much with me. Beheadings in Iraq. Missiles in Israel and Gaza. Refugees stranded and starving on a mountaintop. A sweet, manic comic dead by his own hand. Too much change, too much pain, too much sorrow. I burrowed deeper under my pillow, too sad to cry, too weary and afraid to venture out.
How could the world’s troubles be so far and so near at the same time, somehow broadcast into my head from thousands of miles away. It could, perhaps would happen here one day. What would keep crowds of marauders from attacking my home and my bedroom, or devastating suicidal depression from consuming my soul and crippling my will?
“Come Unto Me.”
I tried to imagine Jesus by my bedside, with kindness and a good morning welcome in his eyes. It seemed too much an anachronism and I went back to the pillow. But the image stayed and He didn’t go away.
“Come Unto Me.”
But what about the children, I wondered. I wanted to take a stand, I wanted to help. I also wanted to be safe… secure… and rest. The images battled in my brain, so I stopped to let them settle.
“Come Unto Me.”
I imagined the Lord with long feathered wings, somehow gathering both me and all the hurting children under his massive reach, pulling us deeper, closer to His body, sheltering us from the storm. Watching the stormy world from His safe haven, I pushed my back closer to His side. Gradually, my heartbeat slowed. Gradually, terror ebbed away and engulfed a bit less of my soul.
“We’re not on that page of your story yet.”
Ah, the old story image. I nodded, beginning to understand. Years ago during a time of prayer I had imagined a storybook, the Lord reading my story to me. I was little, perhaps six years old, He was big. He squatted next to me and we pointed to pictures of my life. The house, the stone wall next to the garage, my dad, a friend. Each picture was a chapter, and the book was long, endlessly long.
I imagined horrors looming near the end of the book. “What if something happens? I couldn’t deal with that!” I was impatient, turning pages to get to the end, but He stopped me. “We’re not on that page, yet,” He said, the corners of His mouth smiling gently at my impatience.
“Yet? YET? You mean something DOES happen?” He shook His head. No, that wasn’t what He meant. He wouldn’t tell me the end of the book, or even a later chapter. We would deal with that when and if it happened. Whatever picture appeared, He would be there walking through the story with me.
The hurting children. I extracted myself from the comforting image as pictures of tortured children once again filled my brain, but Jesus wouldn’t leave me there. He shook his head slowly, side to side, warning me without a word.
“Come Unto Me.” I nestled back under His “wing” with all the hurting children. Here, I could be safe. From here, He could use me to help. To pray. To give. To act. But from safety, not pain or fear.
Rest. His place of rest gave me strength to live.
Where is your place of rest, sheltered under His wings?