“A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says — ‘I cannot stand any more.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly…The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we take this view, life becomes one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvelous things all the time.” Oswald Chambers
She had reached her tipping point. Too many skipped naps, late nights, and unsupervised sugar intake finally got the best of her after a fun-filled weekend. I knew she needed to rest. I scooped her flailing body up, carried her to the upstairs room of my grandmother’s house and told her it was nap time. Well, to my two-year-old, those were fighting words! An apocalyptic fit ensued. After disciplining her, reasoning with her, and trying my best to calm her, it was clear she was past the point of coherent communication. I held her tightly to my chest, laid down in the bed with her, and began stroking her hair and singing softly in her ear. Her outrage turned into sobs and gasps for breath. As her body finally began to relax, she looked me in the eyes, grabbed my face, and planted a kiss right on my mouth. As she began to calm down in my arms, I whispered in her ear, “It’s going to be okay. I’m not going to leave you. You can rest now.”
In that moment, she didn’t need to be left alone to fend for herself. She needed me. Her hits and kicks and crying rampage turned into desperation for comfort from her mother. Once she was sure she would not be left alone, her breathing slowed down and she finally drifted off to sleep.
There have been times in my life when I have responded much the same, fighting desperately for what I thought I needed, clambering for my own way, pounding the chest of the One Who loves me most.
“Why, Lord? But it hurts! I don’t like this! I feel so lost.”
And as He stretches and I strain, He all the while pulls me in, closer to His chest. “It’s going to be okay. I’m not going to leave you. You can rest now.”
As it turns out, my own fighting causes the injuries, not the gentle stretching of my Father.
“My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). “Though you stumble, you will not fall, for I am holding you by your hand” (Psalm 37:24). “I am compassionate and merciful, slow in anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8). “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell Me what you need, and thank Me for all I have done” (Philippians 4:6).
Over the years, there will be more fits and fights with my sweet girl, I’m sure. She will grow and stretch and experience pain and loss. She will be afraid and lonely at times. She will test the waters, sometimes walking bravely on top like Peter and other times sinking in fear. But, I pray she will one day stand in front of beloved friends and family, like my own grandmother did this weekend, as a beautiful example of a life lived well, carried along by faith and love. She’ll know she’s never been alone. She’ll smile as she remembers the tears shed. She’ll laugh as she thinks of the journey behind her. She’ll embrace what lies ahead.
Pencil marks on a wall
I wasn’t always this tall,
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed,
You watched my team win,
You watched my team lose,
You watched when my bicycle went down again,
And When I was weak unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Elbow healer, Superhero,
come if You can,” and You said “I am”
Only 16, life is so mean, what kind of curfew is at ten PM
You saw my mistakes, You watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again
When I was weak, unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Heart-ache Healer, Secret-keeper,
be my Best Friend” and You said “I am”
You saw me wear white, by pale candlelight,
I said forever to what lies ahead
two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
too much it might seem when it’s two AM
When I am weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name.
“Oh Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker,
hold on to my hand,” and You say “I am.”
The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around
us so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer
Life had begun, I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne, who can say when,
But they’ll dance again, when I am free and finally headed home
I will be weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name
“Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer,
Lord and King, Beginning and
the End, I am, yes, I am.”
-Nicole Nordeman, “I AM”
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